The Chinese Invented Soccer, Part 2

My first post about this topic still brings googlers to this blog every day. Now, an article in the New Straits Times brings up the topic once again, and makes it clear (to their own satisfaction, at least) that soccer was first played in China.

Who actually invented soccer? For the British, the first soccer ball was the head of a vanquished Danish prince. In Egypt, soccer evolved from a harvest ritual where a linen ball was belted across a field. Even Eskimos played a type of soccer on a wide ice pitch.

Did soccer fever ever rage in China? In Ancient Soccer, the second instalment of Chinese Whispers, Zhang journeys across China and into the past in search of the answer, following the whispers of an ancient game called cuju dating back to the Qi kingdom more than 2,500 years ago and way before Europeans had their first free kick.

Cuju was so popular that it was played by the emperor, court officials, peasants, children and even women. The game spread to Japan and records show that a match was held between Japan and China around 50 BC. The Chinese were very serious about this game that it was literally a matter of life and death.

My own attitude is, who cares? But it was fascinating to see how emotional readers became when discussing this topic. Does this movie settle the question for good? Or is relating cuju to soccer a big stretch?

The Discussion: 11 Comments

Any time China talks about inventing any sport, I think of this:

October 23, 2006 @ 4:01 pm | Comment

Chinese invented football? OK with me. But I would love to see the evidence for the game between “China and Japan” 2000 years ago and does it perhaps also say who won?
I am sure in some time to come, but surely before the Olympics, there will be a scientist proudly telling us, that the Olympic idea actually is a Chinese one.

October 23, 2006 @ 6:33 pm | Comment

why are they so insecure? they have their own fine traditions (wushu etc). loads of games were invented seperately by many civilisations. the aztecs had a version of volleyball – but do you see mexicans banging on about how they invented it? are the chinese claiming to have invented the 11 a side rules?!?

anyway, if they invented the game, why is their team so shit?

October 23, 2006 @ 6:34 pm | Comment

Exactly it is not something to be trumpeting when your national team is dogshit.

October 23, 2006 @ 6:51 pm | Comment

Chip on shoulder itis.

October 23, 2006 @ 9:33 pm | Comment

Now that the Chinese are the inventors of soccer, I am sure that they will easily win the next World Cup. Italy, France, Germany, and Brazil be forewarned.

October 24, 2006 @ 12:30 am | Comment

The Chinese National Team could win – if they wanted to. They just haven’t wanted to until…well, until the rest of the world acknowledges their invention of this fine game! You Go, China!!

October 24, 2006 @ 7:20 am | Comment

Prediction: next it will be, “you know, we Chinese invented the three-legged sack race.”

October 25, 2006 @ 12:11 am | Comment

I’m pretty sure the program was sponsored by Chinese government and all Chinese around the world are cheering our new found inventions.

Wait . . . . . was that just an illusion I got from reading the comments here . . . . now my head hurts!

October 25, 2006 @ 12:21 am | Comment

They also invented the first video game, “Space Invaders”, but its original name was, “Foreigners”

October 25, 2006 @ 9:20 am | Comment

I don’t know how much it matters either way, but the evidence tends to suggest China was playing a game thousands of years ago that involving a ball that was to be kicked. The claim of inventing soccer was dragged out heavily in 2004 during the Asian Cup, when the FIFA president and other “dignitaries” were in China.

As for why China’s MNT is crap, how much time do you have? I think one of the number 1 issues has to do with culture and the lack of encouragement for young people to involve themselves with “frivolous” things. There’s also the fact they can never seem to hire a halfway decent coach (Bora aside) who can deal with the talent (or lack thereof).

October 25, 2006 @ 11:14 pm | Comment

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