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Soccer has been an evolving game ever since it has been created. There have been numerous rules and equipment changes. It brings joy to the players and those who watch it, especially when their national team wins a huge game. There are also so many ways to play the game now. People can play it both on an indoor court or outside on a field. There are no limitations to the game, other than a few rules, but people are free to play as they please. With the game becoming more and more popular especially women’s teams recently the participation in the sport has skyrocketed.

The earliest version of a team game using a ball was seen in Mesoamerican cultures known as Tlachtli. In this game, the ball was made of solid rubber and the players could only use their legs, hips, and elbows to send the ball through a hoop made of stone. From there numerous different games would be made, one of which being soccer. The development of soccer can be traced back to England during the 12th century. During this time, it was played more like rugby as it was rougher, and you could use your hands and punch the ball. This version you could see being played by numerous people throughout a large area in towns. Due to this, damage to the towns was frequent and death was also possible which led to the game being forbidden until the 17th century when games similar would still be played. In this century, the game was also introduced to public schools specifically Rugby and Eton. The school of Rugby would keep the game similar to its origins which would create the game we know as rugby. Eaton would go on to change this so the ball could only be touched with the player’s feet. In 1848, a meeting was held in Cambridge to create proper rules which would fail to find a solution for all questions raised. A little less than 20 years later, the first association was formed in London England which would decide that the players using their hands would be illegal, and a standard size and weight for the ball was also decided.

As the game continued to grow popular, rules would be added or changed throughout time. Referees for the game were not added until 1871 so before this time, assigned captains from both teams would oversee keeping order. In 2018 a var (video assistant referee) system would first be used in the European leagues to help referees with calls which included goals, penalties, and red cars. One of the most game-changing positions in soccer wasn’t a distinctive position until 1909, and this position was the goalkeeper. It wasn’t until this time did the keeper wore a different color. Then three years later, they were allowed to use their hands inside the goal box of their goal. A year later after referees were added, in 1872, corner-kicks were added and then in 1924, a corner-kick was allowed to score a goal. In 1891, rules for penalties were introduced but would not be marked on the field until 1902 so a penalty before this would be given if a referee thought an offense against the rules was made within twelve yards from the goal line. Shoot-outs from the penalty line for a draw game to decide a winner were not formally introduced until 1970 and in 1982 the first World Cup shoot-out happened in the semi-final between West Germany and France. From 1866, when it was first installed, to 1921 offside rules were changed. In 1866, the rule of offside was a player could only pass the ball forward if there were three players from the other side between the ball and the goal. This rule caused a lack of goals leading to several changes. In, 1907 was added that a player couldn’t be offsides on their side then in 1921 they added that it was impossible to be offsides for a throw-in. It also changed by having there only be two opposite players between the ball and the goal. The rules for offsides led to the game tactically which also led to defenders being used more in the game.

Other than rules changing as soccer grew the equipment was also added or was changed to better a player on the field. In the 19th century, the ball being used was starting to be made from rubber with the first one being used in 1855. Before this time, the balls used were unpredictable and made of pig skin. From there in 1862 the first inflatable rubber ball was made more flexible allowing it to be kicked easier and controlled while the shape stayed the same. With this also came the different sizes for different age groups. A size five would be used by players twelve and older, a size 4 for players from the ages eight to twelve, and a size 3 for players younger than eight. Another piece of equipment that changed was the shoes. Originally the shoes used were a pair of steel-toed work boots with metal tacks hammered into the sole. But in 1863 the football association prohibited nails, iron plates, or plastic from tree rosin to be projected from a player’s shoe. From this time shoes would continue to change to be more resilient, lightweight, and to not absorb moisture, as well as being made to help with kicking and manipulating the ball. Today, shoes are still being improved for these things to help better a player’s skill. In 1863 the rule for shin guards was introduced as soccer was known to injure a player’s shin. Like today, shin guards are continuously being advanced to not only protect the player, but some brands also feature advantages that others may not.

Women playing soccer was very hard to come by until the end of the 1880s. During this time, it was a very controversial thing as it was still a rough sport and people were horrified with the idea of women being a part of a “masculine sport.” During a woman’s game, it wasn’t uncommon for a strike to occur which included people just invading the field. In 1881 the team Mrs. Graham XI was one of the first teams to feel this force during their first big game when at the fifty-fifth minute a group of uncontrollable specters entered the field. Around the time of World War I, woman organized their matches, and thousands of spectators were attracted. While was a huge breakthrough for women of this sport a rumor of them being paid led to public outrage, typically men. These outbreaks led to the Football Association of England banning women from playing soccer and being able to get to club facilities in 1921. It wouldn’t be until fifty years later that the ban would be lifted and from there on women’s soccer would grow at an incredible rate. But even as the sport grew there were still challenges one of which was the pay gap between female and male professional players. In the year 2019, the women’s US team filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation for this pay gap. This gap can be seen even between the female and male highest-paid players. Carli Lloyd was this for the females earning $518,000 annually compared to the one million a week that Lionel Messi, the highest-paid male player. The gap between the two players is outstanding. While in May 2020 the lawsuit was dismissed women were still able to gain equal pay.

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From the game of soccer, many variations have been made one of which being futsal. It was in 1930 when a teacher named Juan Carlos Ceriani created this game for recreational fun at the YMCA. Futsal is related to soccer but is played on a smaller field and is typically played on a hard court indoors. It is played with two teams of 5 players one of which being a keeper. Unlike the typical game of soccer, futsal is based more on foot skills and is played at a faster pace. This fast pace and smaller courts allow for goals to be more frequently made in futsal than they would be in a soccer game. Another variation of soccer is known as Teqball, which is a combination of soccer and table tennis. This version of soccer is still new as it was introduced in 2014. It is played on a table that is like that of a ping pong table the only difference is the tabletop is curved. This game is played using only feet, knees, chest, and head and games go to 12 and is the best-of-three-match style game. The other variation to come from soccer is foot volleyball. This game is very similar to volleyball but is instead played with your feet and is played with a soccer ball instead of a volleyball. The rules are very similar to that of volleyball as well you must get the ball on the opposing side, and it must touch the ground to gain a point.

During the early years of soccer, tactics, and formations were not like today. Teams would use a 2-2-6 or 1-2-7 type shape with passing not being very prominent from 1870 to 1930. In the 1950s, Hungary’s national teams played with a deep-lying midfielder and had two players in the full-back position. They also had 4 strikers; with this, they were able to create space giving the attackers more opportunities to make plays. In the 1960s, Brazil started playing with a four-person defense, two central players, and two full-backs. In the 1970s, the Dutch team integrated more movement into the game, this included players switching positions in the outfield. In the 1980’s defense was used very heavily. From there, the game took on more of a fluid play like it did in the 1970’s. This type of play involved lots of possession and lots of pressing off the ball. While these are the dominant tactics used today the formations of the game continue to change and different ones are used by different teams.

Throughout the years there have been numerous phenomenal and with these players come the argument of who the best player is overall. People have based their opinion on who is the best based on numerous factors some of them being money earned, the player stats overall, a player of a certain position, or just based on pure preference on who they like. I am a fan of Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris. If someone were to go of the amount paid to the player, the highest-paid female player as stated before is Carli Lloyd at $518,000 a year and the male player would be Cristiano Ronaldo at 125 million dollars from both earnings and endorsements. For looking at stats when comparing players typically you want to look at players in the same position or similar positions. This is because every position has its jobs such as you don’t typically see the number of goals for statistics for defenders or goalkeepers as it is very rare for these positions to make a goal. So, for example, when looking at stats for the US women’s national team you could compare Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe as they’re both forwards. When looking at the stats for 2021 Rapinoe scored six goals and three assists in a total of twelve games compared to Morgan who had 5 goals and 2 assists in 13 matches. These two players are typically equal in stats when playing so it is kind of hard to compare their stats-wise so typically people go off personal preference. Typically, male players are compared more than women as they’re more well known even with the growth in interest in the female games.

If I had to choose a sport that I’ve done in my life that had to be most physically demanding I would have to say soccer would be that sport for me. An average player will typically run up to seven miles in one game that lasts ninety minutes with only a half-time and some substitutions. While the sport is tiring, I love to play, work on my skills, and even just watch a game. I am sad that I will not be able to participate in my high school team as throughout the years it was always the part of the year I looked forward to. While I may not be able to play, I am hoping to be able to watch a few games and cheer them on. I am happy that this class was offered as while it is not like playing for my team at home, I still was able to have fun and learn more about the sport that I love to play.

Overall, Soccer has been a great influence on people throughout the world in different classes, ages, and races. It is a game that everyone can enjoy and play even if they are new to the sport. The sport has changed throughout the years for the better and I can’t wait to see how it will evolve in the future. I hope to be able to play more going into the future and see the different players evolve in the sport. I also can’t wait to see newcomers into the sport evolve and enjoy it just as I do. While few make it to the collegiate level even fewer become professionals, but this doesn’t stop kids from dreaming which is one thing I think soccer allows for kids to have. A dream of being able to do what they put their mind to and this dream pushes kids to put effort into things they thought wouldn’t be possible. I hope that this idea continues and gives kids opportunities in their lives.

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