In the official homeland of modern football, England, the first documented game of football took place in 217 AD. There was a Celtic derby against the Romans in the Derby area. The Celts won; history has not preserved the score. During the Middle Ages the game of ball was very popular in England, a cross between ancient football and modern football. Although it was more akin to a brawl and turned into a bloodbath. The game was played directly in the streets, sometimes with 500 or more players on each side. The winning team was the team that could chase the ball through the town to a designated point. English writer of the 16th century Stubbes wrote about football: «Football brings scandals, noise and strife. It is a complete collection of causes for fighting, murder and a great multitude of bloodshed. Cheeks bruised, legs of arms and backs broken, eyes blown out, noses full of blood – that’s what football is.» Not surprisingly, football was considered a politically dangerous activity. King Edward II first tried to combat the scourge by banning football from the city limits in 1313. Then King Edward III banned football altogether. King Richard II in 1389 introduced very severe penalties for the game – up to and including death penalty. After that every king considered it his duty to issue an edict banning football as it was still being played. It was only after 100 years that the monarchs still decided that it was better to let the people engage in football than in rebellion and politics. The ban on football in England was lifted in 1603. The game became widespread in 1660, when Charles II came to the English throne. In 1681 there was even a match under certain rules. The king’s team was defeated, but he rewarded one of the best players on the opposing team. Up until the beginning of the 19th century, football was played as they had to – the number of players was not limited, the tackling techniques were varied. There was only one objective – to get the ball into a certain place. In the twenties of the 19th century there were first attempts to make football a sport and create uniform rules. They were not immediately successful. Football was particularly popular in colleges, but each college played by its own laws. Therefore it was representatives of the English educational institutions who finally decided to unify football rules. The so-called Cambridge Laws came into being in 1848 after delegates from colleges met in Cambridge to streamline the game of football.
The main provisions of these rules were corner kicks, drop kicks, offside tackles and foul penalties. But even then no one really enforced them. The main stumbling block was the dilemma of whether to play football with the feet or with both feet and hands. At Eton College, the rules were more like those of modern football – there were 11 players in the team, handball was forbidden, there was even a rule similar to today’s «offside». College players from Rugby, on the other hand, played with both feet and hands. As a result, at a regular meeting in 1863, representatives of Rugby left the congress and organized their own football, which we know as rugby. And the rest worked out the rules, published in newspapers and universally accepted.
This is how the football that is played all over the world today came into being.