Did you know the Chinese invented soccer?

I had no idea.

I don’t think I’ve ever posted on sports before, so this’ll be a first. A Brit is mad as hell that the head of the Federation Internationale de Football Associatio, Sepp Blatter (what a name) is trying to suck up to the Chinese by telling them they sorta kinda invented soccer. Apparently to an Englishman that’s the equivalent of high treason.

I nearly choked on my chicken chow mein. The news was devastating. Alright, I know the sun has clearly set on the British Empire — all but for the Rock of Gibraltar, that is — but now Sepp Blatter is trying to take away our last vestige of dignity.

The all-powerful president of world governing body FIFA had the nerve to say recently that the Chinese — not the English — invented soccer. The most powerful man in football, who once suggested female soccer players should wear skimpy outfits, is now pandering to the Chinese. He’s even offering so-called evidence that soccer began in the Orient and not on the lush playing fields of Merry Olde England.

Where’s Sir Alex Ferguson when you need someone to kick a soccer boot at someone?

I’m devastated. My forefathers, who once chased a pig’s inflated bladder through muddy fields from one English shire to the next, are turning over in their damp graves. “But you cannot deny the history that in China there is a recollection and evidence that they played the game a thousand years ago,” Blatter told Sky Sports this week.

“When in China, tell the Chinese they invented everything,” seems to be Blatter’s motto. After all, think of all those soccer shirts you can sell to a nation of 1.3 billion people that love David Beckham. We all know the Chinese invented gun powder, printing and fortune cookies, but nowhere in Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book did it mention anything about soccer. Come on Sepp! Are they padding your expense account in that so-called land of great Socialist equality?

I didn’t know articles on sports could be so well written. Maybe I should stop automatically tossing the sports section in the trash.

The Discussion: 58 Comments

Yep, I used to hear this all the time when I was in China (especially when the world cup was in progress).

There are a couple of other seemingly common held beliefs too..

For example, you might be interested in learning that apparently the Olympic rings are based on Chinese knot-tying…

haha yeah right!

The other ones slip my mind at the moment, but they were equally ludicrous, had little basis in reality, and seemed to be designed for no other reason than to boost national pride.

July 23, 2004 @ 6:08 pm | Comment

But the guy making the claim this time apparently isn’t Chinese — Sepp Blatter doesn’t sound like a Chinese name, at least not to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

July 23, 2004 @ 6:25 pm | Comment

Ahhh… truly truly everyone is tending the branch to the Chinese. In the names of what? It smells like money to me, saddly enough…

When I was there last May, Lula (the Brazilian President) was going around with a famous Brazilian movie star signing footballs for business men in really really sexy wear.

It looks like everyone is trying to lick their… errr… wallets!!!

Even the americans are dancing the tango by backing off from Taiwan and leaning towards Beijing (in the latest report about the Taiwan situation).

July 23, 2004 @ 6:41 pm | Comment

Actually, there are various ancient histories of football (as in playing a ball with the feet).

In Chinese history, the decline of the Song dynasty was due in no small part to a particular Emperor who loved ‘football’. And he trusted the governance of the country to … who else? … a good football player! If the man can organize a good game for the Emperor, he must be able to run the country too, right? Yes, but the man was also very corrupt. This was the background behind The Water Margin.

But elsewhere in the world, the Mayans played football too, as many Mayan palaces have large ‘football’ fields. The big difference in the rules is that the loser gets his head chopped off. The players are ‘recruited’ as ‘prisoners of war’ captured during imperial conquests.

How about that for perfectly useless informatino?

July 23, 2004 @ 7:24 pm | Comment

Another trivia to eswn’s Mayan soccer – I had thought that the Mayans played a form of basketball, where the ball had to be passed/shot through a vertical hoop, located on side of arena – or were they required to kick it?

I like the idea of losers being executed – I might suggest this to the governing board of that silly game called cricket.

July 23, 2004 @ 7:45 pm | Comment

eswn> Yes it’s true that the Chinese played a game that required use of a ball and the feet, but it’s a bit of a far stretch to call that football – at least with regards to how the game is played today (actually the game was called cu ju, or tsu chu, depending on which spelling you prefer. For those interested this roughly translates to kickball).

The wikipedia has an excellent entry detailing the origins of football, and the various different football codes played in the world today:


as well as an excellent entry solely regarding the form of football otherwise known as soccer:


I think it’s fair to say that football (of the soccer variety) as it’s played today was developed and formulated in Britain sometime during the mid 19th century, and had nothing at all to do with game the Chinese played.

Anyway, I’m sorry for going on, and I realise you were just listing some interesting trivia, but it’s inaccurate at best to say that the Chinese invented football (i.e. soccer), and it’s even worse when people say it solely to help inflate the Chinese ego – which this Sepp Blatter seemed to be doing.

July 24, 2004 @ 1:18 am | Comment

Tsu Chu arguably has more to do with rugby than soccer football.

The theory is that the Romans took a version back to Italy, and a version of this took root in Ireland where it became Gaelic football. The inventor of rugby, William Webb Ellis is though to have been familiar with the Irish game when he famously rebelled against the rules of foorball and launched a new code back in the 1800s.

But all of these are games that developed in their own nations – to suggest that the Chinese invented soccer is the same as suggesting they invented aeroplanes just because you see Boeings in China these days. They may have invented rockets, yep, but they weren’t the first nation to put a man in space either…

July 24, 2004 @ 3:42 am | Comment

And in a completely different tone: Richard, I don’t know about America, but in New Zealand at least sports writing, and rugby writing in particular, is the closest thing to poetry you’ll find in a newspaper. You should definitely check it out, the best of it does come close to true art.

July 24, 2004 @ 6:55 am | Comment

Sports includes a lot of valuable political and strategic lessons, too. Not to pimp too heavily for my little blog, but I just wrote a bit on politics and power at the Tour de France (yes, I’m a fan, and a bit obsessed til Monday). That story here


July 24, 2004 @ 10:56 am | Comment

Sorry, almost wandered OT, but the Chinese invented bicycles, too, didn’t they?

July 24, 2004 @ 10:57 am | Comment

Asia by Blog

Let’s plunge straight into today’s Asia linkfest: Hong Kong, Taiwan and China More on the Taiwan-China potential for conflict. Firstly Richard points to a story of some Taiwanese people perpetually in the wrong place at the wrong time. Joseph Bosco fol…

July 26, 2004 @ 12:45 am | Comment

And here I always thought it was the (former) Soviets who invented everything. Could this be the reason behind the traditional ill feelings between China and Russia?

I believe the game Jacky is referring to was actually played by the Aztecs and evolved into jai alai.

Seems to me I saw somewhere that fortune cookies first appeared in New York as a marketing gimmick for competeing restaurants. May or may not be true.

July 26, 2004 @ 9:32 am | Comment

Just cos the chinese may have played with a ball 2000 years ago doesnt mean they invented it, that sepp blatter guy is obviously an english hater and just wants 2 ruin british pride!!!

August 14, 2004 @ 1:33 pm | Comment

no dickhead when was it invented.Like 1576 or somefin bitch

September 6, 2004 @ 5:32 am | Comment

i just love soccer. if you guys have never invented it i would not be interested in any other sport i play soccer durring witer summer spring and fall and it is sooooo awsome but if you guys have anything you would like to share with me can you please e-mail be back at deviledlittlediva549_549@hotmial.com

September 29, 2004 @ 12:36 pm | Comment

my name is ava as you know.I’m doing my homework on who invented sports & stuff so I poped over here.I’m in soccer & from china. I was adopted so now I live in the U.S.
I have lots of things from china so I think
this is real neat.

October 4, 2004 @ 7:53 pm | Comment

you guys are stupid no chinese ppl invented soccer cuz they cant see the ball lol jks.. i think it was europeans that invented soccer because we are truly the gods of soccer

October 7, 2004 @ 7:37 pm | Comment

love your site .

November 17, 2004 @ 4:54 pm | Comment

p.s. its me lacy again i love chinese food you made me hungry.i love soccer to

November 17, 2004 @ 5:11 pm | Comment

i thought soccer originated in Germany

November 21, 2004 @ 6:46 pm | Comment

I luv socer

January 4, 2005 @ 5:56 pm | Comment

Who cares who invented the sport????!!!!! Whoever did “congrats”! BUT REALLY COME ON… I don’t care who invented it (it’s an interesting fact to know of course) just as long as it was invented. It probably developed from several different places each making their own change till it became the soccer we all know and love today. SOCCER ROXX!!!!!

Midfield Player: Mary

February 24, 2005 @ 6:38 am | Comment

Gianluca, is that’s your main point on who invented soccer, well i guess brazilians invented soccer? they r so good at it man.. 5 titles?? and if u have watched copa america, wow, the teams played beautiful football, superb skills, beautiful goals.

March 29, 2005 @ 8:20 pm | Comment

i didn’t kno that it was invented by them thats really weird… i like egg rolls hahahaha

March 31, 2005 @ 11:14 am | Comment

no i did not know that they did .

April 7, 2005 @ 11:32 am | Comment

hey waz up i did not know that but its pretty cool……..


April 7, 2005 @ 11:34 am | Comment

Duck tastes like chicken!

April 15, 2005 @ 5:54 am | Comment

Soccer rules…its the best! I didnt kno that it came from China though. Thats pretty kool cause u play a sport that peopl were playing hundreds of years ago!…i still think duck tastes like chicken….im only here for a school project….(thanx GOOGLE!)

April 15, 2005 @ 5:58 am | Comment

wht the hell china invented soccer?

April 19, 2005 @ 3:50 pm | Comment

k_den guys and girls live in hawaii see you lata!!!!!!!!!!!

April 19, 2005 @ 3:53 pm | Comment

i really needed this cuz i broke ma wriste i cant do p.e. and i had to do a reachrche on soccer and i needed to knoe who invented soccer

May 9, 2005 @ 2:50 pm | Comment


May 20, 2005 @ 7:54 am | Comment

Hello I Soccer And I Like duck !

May 20, 2005 @ 7:57 am | Comment

Yes, I invented soccer.

May 20, 2005 @ 8:14 am | Comment

I Like Soccer

May 23, 2005 @ 7:20 am | Comment

Soccer was invented by martians fools!

May 30, 2005 @ 10:23 am | Comment

no way

June 2, 2005 @ 6:44 pm | Comment

I’m here 4 my assignment google does fail ya at times

June 8, 2005 @ 7:56 am | Comment

China didn’t invent soccer.. England invented soccer.

You can’t have a sport without rules and England invented the rules for it.

June 9, 2005 @ 10:57 am | Comment

haha same here bad information…soccer is fun tho

June 10, 2005 @ 12:41 pm | Comment

bastards… how could it be u all know the english invented it!

July 18, 2005 @ 9:10 pm | Comment

Actually it was the Scottish who invented soccer, in the 1600s. Get your facts straight!

The love of your life has a past you don’t know about.

The English myth

In 1863 the London Football Association was founded with their London rules and were ignored by everyone else. Sheffield had the oldest two clubs in the world and their Sheffield rules. Most other English cities had their own rules too.

The English game was odd. Dribbling was important, passing was not. You got the ball and ran for your opponentsโ€™ goal.

Things were a little different in Scotland. Since the sixteenth century at least, passing and running had been the proper form of football for Scots.

Scotland founds modern world football

In 1872 Queenโ€™s Park FC hosted the worldโ€™s first international against England. It was played at the West of Scotland Cricket Ground in Partick, Glasgow.

I would have loved to seen the English players coming to tackle the Scots. They must have been amazed and confused when the Scots simply passed their way around the England players.

The โ€˜Scotch Professorsโ€™

The English clubs started importing players to teach English players the passing and running game. They called them โ€˜Scotch Professorsโ€™. When England was still divided over which set of rules to use, Scotland had the Scottish Football Association (SFA), one set of rules for Cup-ties and one style. The SFA was the worldโ€™s first true national association.

The English FA fought to stop the Scottish game taking over. They lost. Itโ€™s funny then how you will read how the โ€˜combination gameโ€™ of passing and running was perfected by Preston North End in England, they had eight Scots in their team! You will read that the Brazilians learnt football from the English (no they didnโ€™t: Archie McLean was from Paisley near Glasgow) or that England invented football. Why spoil a good story with the truth?

Thank you Scotland

Scotland was in the right place at the right time and was the right size to perfect the modern world game and export it to all corners of the globe.

All hail to World Football: the Scottish Game

September 23, 2005 @ 9:55 am | Comment

all i know is i love soccer and as far as i know it was invented in europe but allcountry had/have some version of it and can all logically be called football

October 5, 2005 @ 7:47 pm | Comment

what person invented soccer

October 10, 2005 @ 6:58 am | Comment

Joe W. Soccer

October 10, 2005 @ 8:17 am | Comment

hey, chinese dude!! wats up!! well i just wanted to say FUCK YOU ALL!!! my last name is fortin….. i live in scarborough!!

October 14, 2005 @ 5:34 pm | Comment

hey!!! love chiness!! my last name is
mc donlad!!woowoowowow!!!

October 14, 2005 @ 5:39 pm | Comment

I dont give a crap who invented it but im glad they did soccer is the most beast sport out there.So for all you jackasses that play something other then soccer go to hell. SOCER RULES

October 20, 2005 @ 4:17 pm | Comment

Soccor sucks

December 8, 2005 @ 9:08 am | Comment


December 12, 2005 @ 5:30 pm | Comment

i did NOT got the information that i was looking for!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

December 19, 2005 @ 11:41 am | Comment

i love soccer. i’ve played soccer ever since i was little. this web site has taught me so much more than i have ever thought about knowing. soccer is the sport to play!

January 12, 2006 @ 11:17 am | Comment

Can everyone please stop accociating food with Chinese culture? Just becasue we make crappy food for you westerners it doesn;t mean it represents our culture, we have many other traditions and things that are worth mentioning….
, the ****ing foutune cookies jokes are wearing thin now so change the subject.

February 12, 2006 @ 11:54 pm | Comment

go fu*k ur self, chinese can see the ball, and u dear dis it im gona give u a FU*KING HIDING

May 23, 2006 @ 3:10 am | Comment

some people posts stuff merely from a very personal experience, so let me post something more neutral and more accurate.
Chinese written history recorded this game called cuju, which the soldiers were trained agility, fexlibility by kicking the ball to a wooden goal.
However the recorde game between chinese and japanese were more soccer than just a military excersice called cuju.
The players kick the feather ball to the opponent’s goal.

Ofcourse modern soccer rules were not invented by chinese.
The greeks get credits by making the ball with pig and buffalo skins not hair or feather.
In roman time they recorded the similar cuju game in the west.
I would say i give the credit to england for its development on the game rules.
German get credits for making the ball with 6 sided partern on the ball.
The americans get credit for making the ball two layers and putting a valve on it.
Ofcourse we can’t say chinese invented soccer as it is now. Its the continuous development from the accent game of kicking feather ball to modern games credited by all those folks above.
I would not say only the english knew soccer and the invented the whole thing.
Many things in ancient cultures are developed and refined by latter advanced societies. That would include soccer.
I dont think people say chinese invented soccer just because you are in china or its 1.3 billion market. Its studip to say that. Whats true is written and recorded.

May 27, 2006 @ 3:23 am | Comment

chck chong chick chong hong gong thong

June 2, 2006 @ 7:24 am | Comment

It seems many ancient society’s had games that involved kicking objects around.

But let’s not kid ourselves, The Football (soccer) that we play today was developed in 19th century England and was exported to the rest of the world. Please learn to deal with it, and stop being so jealous and petty.

You may not like the fact, you may all have your various reasons to hate the English, but the truth is that we wouldn’t all be playing it now if the English hadn’t formulated the modern game in their public schools back then.

June 10, 2006 @ 3:36 am | Comment

We must have invented the game cos we’re so crap at it – isn’t that right Vic?

July 3, 2006 @ 3:45 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.