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Monday, June 27, 2011

Interesting Facts about Soccer - Soccer Fun Facts

The game is known as 'soccer' only in North America, while the rest of the world recognizes it as 
'football'. In America, the game of 'Grid Iron' is actually known as 'football', hence the disparity between the worldwide football definitions. Actually the name soccer is a corrupt form of the original term 'association of football', abbreviated as 'assoc' and is the most recognized sport in the world today. Played in almost every country and unequivocally loved, soccer is rather worshiped like a religion, with its players being Gods! There is a possibility for us being unaware of a number of things about soccer. Here are some interesting and some funny facts about the fascinating game of soccer.

The Romans played a game named 'harpastum' which can be said to be the origin of soccer game of the modern era. In the early days of the game, the referees used to wave a handkerchief to control the players. The whistles were introduced in the game in the year 1878. Undoubtedly, the sport is most popular in Europe and South America, but its origins could be found in China, more than 2000 years ago. In 14th century England, the game was banned for being too violent, but ironically, the first ever soccer match was played in Derby, in England itself. Soccer became an Olympic sport in the year 1908. There are 13 major soccer league teams today and more than 7 million children play soccer in the United States of America itself.

The outfield of soccer is 100 to 130 yards long and 50 to 100 yards wide. A single soccer player runs about 7 miles during an entire game. The soccer ball is measured to be around 28 inches in its circumference, and I bet, you didn't know that more than 80% of the world's soccer balls are produced in Pakistan. The World Cup, held in a different country after every 4 years, is the biggest and the most desired event amongst the game's fans. The first ever soccer World Cup was held in the year 1930, which was won by the host country, Uruguay. The number of spectators was 300. Mexico is the only country to host the soccer World Cup event twice. Brazil has won 5 World Cups whereas Argentina has won 2. An interesting fact is that European countries have always been in the World Cup finals, except for the years 1930 and 1950.

India pulled away from the 1950 World Cup because the players were not allowed to play without shoes. The 1950 World Cup game between Uruguay and Brazil at the Maracana Stadium, recorded the highest number of spectators, 199,854! From the year 1962 to 1996, the World Cup was won alternatively by the Europeans and South Americans. The first player to be red carded was the Chile player Carlos Caszely, during the 1974 World Cup. The Brazilian star player Ronaldo, became the all-time highest goal scorer in World Cup events in the year 2006, when he outnumbered the German legend 'Gerd Müller'. He was honored as the most valuable player of the 1998 World Cup, despite the defeat of his team to France. German international player, Oliver Kahn became the first goalkeeper to win the most valuable player of the World Cup in 2002. He was the first goalkeeper to do so. The woman's World Cup was held in the year 1999, which America had won. Mia Hamm, the most successful US soccer player was once the national collegiate player of North Carolina University. Mia also represented the 1999 World Cup and the two 'Olympic gold' winning US teams.

Soccer players are treated as a celebrity throughout their lives. They are fortunate enough to receive tremendous love and affection from their numerous fans. To cash in on this immense popularity, 'professional soccer' came into existence. It is one place, where billion-dollar transfer of payers take place regardless of their country. The players earn this extreme popularity by their superior personal skills. Modern professional players like David Beckham (England), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Kaka, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo (Brazil) are extremely popular in the soccer loving world. David Beckham is said to be the richest soccer player with total earning of more than $50 million.

Some Soccer Trivia
  • The first live coverage of a soccer match shown on television, was in the year 1937. It was a practice match of Arsenal and was played at Highbury stadium
  • During a match played in Paraguay between Sportivo Ameliano and General Caballero, a total of 20 red cards were shown.
  • Norman Whiteside was the youngest player ever to play the game of soccer. He broke Pele's record by playing at the age of 17 years and 47 days.
  • Rotherham United goalkeeper Arthur Wharton, born in Ghana, was the first black professional player, in 1889.
  • Liberian player, George Weah paid for the team's uniforms and all the expenses, so that the team could play in the 1996 African Nations' Cup.
  • Nigerian born Chelsea player Celestine Babayaro, injured his leg while celebrating his debut goal in a preseason match, while Luigi Riva, Italian international player, broke an arm of a spectator due to his powerful shot.
  • In the year 1978, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, was fired for swearing a lady during a match.
  • Italian striker Giuseppe Meazza's 'playing shorts' fell down when he was taking a penalty shot in a semifinal match in the 1938 World Cup.
  • Michael Laudrup was a part of the Barcelona team when they won against Real Madrid 5 - 0. He was a part of the Real Madrid team when they won 5 - 0 against Barcelona as well.
These were my pick of the best from the vast fact list of the most loved game, soccer. If we decide to jot down all the funny incidences and interesting facts, it will take at least a lifetime for us to do so. The popularity of the game is increasing day by day, and I intend to keep an eye for more recent happenings. I will definitely keep you updated. For now I conclude with this - known for its sportsman spirit and extreme level of excitement, soccer is the national game of countries like Russia, Brazil and France.