Why do people go crazy for soccer?  人はなぜサッカーに熱狂するのか ―その歴史をひも解く―


Football in England 1846
Football in England 1846

  The long-awaited 2014 FIFA World Cup got under way in Brazil. Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world, enjoyed by people in more than 200 countries. FIFA World Cup is its biggest event where national teams vie for the coveted trophy. Now, soccer is said to overwhelm the Olympic Games in terms of TV and radio audience. It is a global culture that has grown to blend into people’s everyday life.



Soccer’s history dates back to 1863, when the Football Association (FA) was founded in London. It was the governing body for all soccer clubs in England at that time. It contributed a great deal to establishing the modern soccer rules.



  Some people may have a question here. “Wasn’t soccer there much longer before?” They may be right. There are various theories as to its birthplace. But it is generally considered to be England. According to one reigning theory, it started as a festival event in medieval England. Villagers kicked a ball to carry it to the specified goal.



  In early days, soccer rules were different from region to region. Some rules allowed players to use their hands. Balls used were also different in shape and size. It was again England that evolved soccer into rugby which allows use of hands. FA built the foundation of modern soccer by unifying those rules.



  The world’s oldest soccer club is said to be Lausanne Football and Cricket Club founded in Switzerland in 1860. This prompted the birth of similar clubs in other European countries. They kept growing through repeated mergers. Those countries that had colonies across the world spread soccer as pleasure for local laborers. The sport became explosively popular in many countries, giving rise to moves to turn it into business.



  The soccer fever turned almost horrifying year after year. The matches between Honduras and El Salvador in June 1969 in the World Cup North, Central American and Caribbean qualifying round triggered an armed conflict between the two neighboring countries. It is literally known as the "Soccer War." Even before the heated matches, the two countries had been in strained relations due to immigration, trade and territorial disputes. Their national squads played three games including a playoff. Each was followed by violent fighting between fans. After Honduras won the first match on June 8, an 18-year-old enthusiastic Salvadoran female fan committed a handgun suicide. Riots erupted at each of the three venues, creating a touch-and-go situation. El Salvador won the June 26 playoff but hours after that, the country severed relations with Honduras. On July 14, its Air Force attacked targets inside Honduras.




  While their case was extraordinary, soccer and violence were inseparable in the past. They still are albeit less frequently. International matches were often followed by bloody violence and hooliganism was once rampant even in the birthplace of soccer. That is really sad for true sports lovers. But it is probably because soccer has so much that makes people thrilled and excited. Undoubtedly it has given people a lot of fun, excitement and courage.



Written By : Manae Hirose

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