53 Interesting Facts About Soccer

Last updated on October 10th, 2020

Facts about Soccer balls

Soccer balls by Adidas.
Soccer balls by Adidas. Interesting facts about Soccer.

1. Soccer balls have been around for centuries.

Records point to a game resembling soccer being played over 2,000 years ago in China, Rome, and Greece. With so much history behind it, soccer balls can claim to be the oldest type of game balls played by humans.

2. In 2001, Spain’s Francisco Javier Galan Marin set the record for the fastest soccer ball kick.

Marin gave the ball enough momentum to make it travel 129 km/hour. That is faster than a cheetah (the fastest land animal on Earth) can run on full speed.

3. There are four variations of the soccer ball in its early history.

  • The Chinese version used stuffed animal skin rolled into a ball.
  • The Egyptian version used linen pouches that were filled with different seeds.
  • The Aztecs and the Mayans made balls using latex harvested from rubber trees.
  • The Greeks, like the Egyptians, used linen pouches but filled these with hair.
Soccer ball and cards
Soccer ball and cards. Soccer facts. Image credit – Marco Verch Professional Photographer

4. Ancient soccer balls were not always made from animal parts or plants.

According to scientists, in the Mesoamerican culture, severed human heads were kicked around in a game. This was in honor of a myth where a man loses a game in the underworld and has to lose his head. This element of the myth later on became an unfortunate practice wherein players who lose a game had to lose their heads as well.

5. Vulcanization revolutionized the soccer ball.

In 1855, Charles Goodyear created a soccer ball using the rubber vulcanization process that he had invented. This was important because it produced a rubber ball that did not melt or become deformed due to high temperatures.

6. The early vulcanized soccer ball did not go far.

Pig’s bladder was once used as a soccer ball, which made it difficult for players to aim accurately. In 1862, H.J. Lindon was able to develop a type of inflatable rubber. This made the ball retain its shape longer and easier to play with.

7. The standard soccer ball has specific measurements.

There are 32 panels in a soccer ball, each one representing 32 European countries. There are 5 standard sizes for soccer balls. The adult size (Size 5) has a circumference of 27 inches to 28 inches. It should weigh between 14 to 16 oz.

USL Soccer Ball
USL Soccer Ball. Image credit – Jarrett Campbell.

8. The soccer ball was not always black and white.

The familiar pattern came about during the 1970 World Cup. This design was made by Adidas and is known as the Telstar.

9. The oldest football in the world is over 430 years old.

The ball, discovered during an excavation at Scotland’s Stirling Castle in the 1970s, is made of leather. It is currently on display at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum.

10. Just because a soccer ball has less than 32 panels does not mean it’s not legit.

For the 2006 World Cup, Adidas designed a soccer ball with just 14 panels. They went further for the 2010 World Cup and released a ball with 8 panels. For the 2014 World Cup, they released a 6-panel soccer ball.

Facts about Soccer shoes (cleats)

1. The first documentation on cleats refers to the pair made for King Henry VIII by the royal shoemaker, Cornelius Johnson around 1526. Even though King Henry appears to have owned the first pair of “football boots”, it is thought that studded sandals were issued to the legionary Roman Soldiers.

2. One of the most important things that soccer cleats do for soccer players is to provide traction. Cleats help players to grip the ground and change direction quickly without the risk of injury.

3. Over the years, football players used their work boots with a steal toe-cap to craft a pair of cleats. They used to hammer studs or tacks to the bottoms of their boots to gain more traction on the field. These boots were heavy and very dangerous to other players.

4. After the development of The Football Association in 1863, the need for a safer and more functional football shoe became a priority. It was during this period that the heavier ankle high boots gave way to a lighter slipper style of boot made with vulcanized rubber and six rounded studs.

5. The opening of Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory by German born brothers Adolf and Rudolf led to the creation of replaceable studs on soccer shoes. These studs could be changed to accommodate the conditions of the field. After the brothers had a fall out, they separated and created the two famous shoe brands known today as Adidas and Puma.

6. Surprisingly, football boots pretty much stayed the same until after WWII. As the popularity of sports began to rise, the need for changes in cleats became obvious and manufacturers got busy creating a cleat that was lighter and more flexible. Cleats were then available with lower cut tops that allowed free ankle movement on the field.

7. Cleats in the 70’s saw even more changes as new materials and colors were introduced to the manufacturing of football boots. With kangaroo leather and a good design, Adidas produced the famous Copa Mundial cleats in 1979.

Adidas predator soccer shoes. soccer facts
Adidas Predator soccer shoes.

 

8. During the 80’s, Craig Johnston created the style of soccer boot called Predator. Predator soccer boots by Adidas were instantly popular. In fact the Predator soccer shoe became a lasting success by using polymer extrusion technology to increase flexibility in the soles. It also replaced rounded studs with a bladed design to increase player stability on the field.

9. Jumping ahead to the 90’s era, many big brands were busy creating new styles and materials to craft better soccer shoes. The more popular brands like Puma, Adidas, and Nike, started paying pro athletes to wear their unique designs during games.

10. Advanced soccer players usually purchase shoes that feature replaceable cleats. Style, comfort, and safety are now all standard in every brand of soccer cleats. Players can now all wear the same colors and brands if they choose, and have a plethora of designs to choose from. Cleats are now considered to be a very important part of many types of sports.

11. Adidas and Nike are the two biggest soccer cleat manufacturers in the world! Due to ever changing technology, and the big brands needing to strive against the competition, it is likely that we will see many new styles and designs in the near future.

General facts about Soccer

1. Soccer is usually played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end.

2. Players of each team aim at moving the ball past the goal of the opposing team.

Soccer goal.
Soccer goal. Interesting facts about Soccer. Image via – Sam Saunders

3. The spherical ball used in the game is known as the football because of the fact that it is to be hit by the foot.

4. When either of the teams is able to push the ball into the goal (between the posts and under the bar) of the opposing team, the team scores a goal. There is a set time limit for which the game is played and at the end of the game, the team that scores more goals wins the game/match.

5. If both the teams score equal number of goals during the game, the game is a draw. Extra time or a penalty shootout is allowed depending on the format of the game to declare a winner.

6. Each of the team is led by a captain.

7. The players are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands or arms while it is in play. Only goalkeepers are allowed to do so and that too within the penalty area.

8. FIFA World Cup is the most watched tournament in the world. It is played every four year since 1930 with the exception of 1942 and 1946 (the event was cancelled due to World War II).

9. The event is held over a period of four weeks involving 32 national teams from across the globe.

10. The game is mainly known as “soccer” in Canada and United States; and “football” in the United Kingdom.

11. Did you know that Football has the highest global television audience in any sport?

12. The set of the rules that the game is played in accordance with is known as “The Laws of the Game.” The Laws of the Game are published by FIFA and are maintained by International Football Association Board.