Earlier versions of soccer were being played as much as 3000 years back, and this has given the game a vibrant history, evolving into the great stature at which the game is currently held.
Did you know that soccer is played by over 250 million players and in over 200 countries?
This sport is prevalent and unequivocally loved so much that ardent fans worship it like a religion and look up to soccer stars like they are demigods of sorts.
Nevertheless, soccer is such a wide sport that there are some facts which even the most avid fans are unaware of. For instance, did you know that soccer is actually supposed to be a non-contact sport?
No? Well, this list will prove to be both entertaining and informative for all soccer fans.
1. Maradona’s famous goal
Of all the major sports in the world, soccer is the only one where a player cannot use their hands to manipulate the ball or object or play. Notwithstanding, there is a record of a World Cup goal having been scored by hand, and this is credited to Diego Maradona.
This happened in 1986 during the quarter-final World Cup match between Argentina and England, with Maradona playing for Argentina. The first half of the game passed without any goals, but during the second half, Maradona met a flying ball and punched it right into the goal. None of the officials caught this error, but the nearby England players did see the illegitimacy and frantically tried to draw the referee’s attention to this.
The replays did show that Maradona’s arm was raised, but this did not help in establishing what exactly had happened. This goal came to be known as the “Hand of God,” and to date, it still stands as being the most infamous goal in the entire history of football.
2. Did you know what happened in Lima in 1964?
The worst stadium disaster in the world is soccer-related, and it happened in Lima, Peru in, 1964. It was a game between teams from Argentina and Peru and the stakes were pretty high because they were competing for a chance to participate in the Tokyo Olympics.
After the referee made a bad call by disallowing a goal by Peru and declaring it a foul, the spectators got upset, and two men stormed into the field. One of the men suffered a brutal assault by the police who were present on the grounds, and this drove the angry crowd to launch missiles towards the police.
A terrible riot ensued after that, then ended in over 300 deaths and over 500 injuries. This was a tragedy of such high magnitude that a 30-day state of emergency was declared in Peru.
3. Pele’s Unbeaten Record
Edson Arantes Do Nascimento, popularly known as Pele, is regarded as being the best footballer of all time and he was even declared a Brazilian Official National Treasure in 1961. This was done to make it legally difficult for Pele to be signed by any other team because since he was a national treasure, he couldn’t play in any other country.
Throughout his career, Pele scored 1281 goals in 1363 games, and this includes tour games and unofficial friendlies. In the entire World Cup history, he is the youngest player to score a hat-trick, which he did in the 1958 FIFA World Cup semi-finals against France, and he is also the only player who’s ever won three FIFA World Cups.
4. World Cups and World Wars
The inaugural World Cup took place in Uruguay in 1930. 13 countries participated, and Uruguay ended up beating Argentina 4-2 to become the first World Cup winners consequently.
German and Brazil were set to host the 1942 and 1946 World Cup tournaments respectively, but this never came to be because the competitions were canceled as a result of World War II and its aftermath.
5. Women’s Soccer History
Football was for the first time included as an official sport in the Olympic Games in 1908, and this ranked as the most prestigious football tournament up until 1930 when the first FIFA World Cup competitions were held.
Despite this early milestone, however, and even though women have played football for as long as the game has existed, it is not until 1996 that Women’s Football was included in Olympic games.
While the women’s Olympic team does not have any restrictions as per the players’ age or professionalism, the men’s Olympic tournaments are only for players who are under 23 years of age.
6. You probably heard about Brazil
Since the inaugural cup in 1930, there have been 21 World Cup competitions to date and Brazil is the only team that has attended each of the tournaments. Additionally, Brazil is also regarded as the most successful World Cup team because they have 5 titles.
Brazil won the World Cup in 1958 (scoring 5-2 against Sweden), in 1962 (scoring 3-1 against Czechoslovakia), in 1970 (scoring 4-1 against Italy), in 1994 (scoring 3-2 against Italy) and in 2002 (scoring 2-0 against Germany).
7. Pakistan and Soccer? Seriously?
Pakistan is not a soccer powerhouse, and in fact, it is best known as a cricketing nation. Surprisingly though, about 55% of the soccer balls used all around the world are manufactured in Pakistan, in the small city of Sialkot.
This football manufacturing niche sees Pakistan rake in between $350m and $500m annually from the export of footballs alone.
8. Do you know which team has the highest record of unbeaten games? you’d be surprised!
The world record for the team that has the highest number of unbeaten league games is held by ASEC Mimosas Abidjan.
This Ivorian football club racked up 108 cup games (at both league and domestic level) and went unbeaten between 1989 and 1994. Eventually, ASEC were beaten by SO Armee.
9. Soccer and Live Television
The first televised football match was shown on 16 September 1937, and this was a friendly match that was specially arranged between Arsenal and Arsenal Reserves, playing at Highbury Stadium.
This was nearly a year after the BBC commenced their television service and after that, the first televised international match which was between England and Scotland was shown on 9 April 1938. 21 days later on 30 April, the first live coverage of an FA Cup final was televised, and this was between Preston North End and Huddersfield Town.
The match between Arsenal and Arsenal Rangers was only televised for 15 minutes while the England-Scotland match was the first game to be broadcast in full.
10. What’s the highest transfer fees ever paid to a soccer player?
The record for the highest fees ever paid for a player aged above 30 goes to Cristiano Ronaldo. When he signed to Juventus in 2018, his transfer was worth €100 million. This also stands at being the highest fee ever paid by an Italian Club for a player.
This is, however, not the first time Cristiano Ronaldo has made the headlines with incredulous transfer fees. His transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid back in 2009, was worth €94 million and this set a new world record at the time.
The current transfer record is held by Neymar whose transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain on 3 August 2017 was worth a record €222 million. This was the first time that a French club set a record fee.
11. Here are some weird clauses in soccer players contracts!
When Giuseppe Reina transferred from SG Wattenscheid 09 to Arminia Bielefeld in 1996, the German striker had them include a clause in his contract that obligated Arminia Bielefeld to build him a house for every year of his contract. The catch, however, is that the house size was not specified and so the club made him LEGO houses for the three years of his contract.
Samuel Eto’o’s move from Inter Milan to Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia, saw his contract have an incredible clause that would have him transported around in a private jet. This was because Eto’o preferred to live in Moscow rather than in Makhachkala.
12. Ruddock and his hilarious story!
Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock is an English footballer whose 17-year professional career has had several controversies. Upon joining Crystal Place in 2000, he wasn’t the slimmest of stars, and so this saw the club have him sign a weight clause. This prevented him from exceeding 99.8kg failure to which the implication would be 10% cut on his salary.
Despite the clause, Ruddock ended up being fined eight separate times for being overweight and this was all in a span of less than 6 months. Furthermore, he ended up missing his debut because there wasn’t any pair of shorts that was big enough to fit him. Needless to say, Ruddock only spent one season in Crystal Palace after which he moved to Swindon Town.
Conclusion: Do you know any other soccer history facts?
Pele was the first person to refer to soccer as ‘The Beautiful Game,’ and this stands true to date. Some parts of its history might be dark and tainted but some parts are also extremely wonderful and interesting peculiar, and one thing is for sure: this sport’s popularity is not about to go away any time soon.
It’s the world’s most lucrative sport, and if the recently-concluded 2018 Russia FIFA World Cup is anything to go by, then things are just about to get extremely interesting for players and fans alike.
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