The USPS celebrates our nation’s passion for athletics with the Have a Ball! stamps. The issuance features colorful illustrations of eight different sports balls:
• A baseball
• A basketball
• A football
• A golf ball
• A kickball
• A soccer ball
• A tennis ball, and
• A volleyball
The round Have a Ball! stamps feature a special coating applied to selected areas of the stamps during the printing process to give them a textured feel.
There are a number of conflicting beliefs concerning the question of who invented soccer. Known as football in most of the world, it is undeniable that this is one of the most popular sports today. Let's explore how soccer developed and spread over the years.
Some suggest that the history of soccer dates back as far as 2500 B.C. During this time, the Greeks, Egyptians, and Chinese all appear to have partaken in games involving a ball and feet.
Most of these games included the use of hands, feet, and even sticks to control a ball. The Roman game of Harpastum was a possession-based ball game in which each side would attempt to retain possession of a small ball for as long as possible. The Ancient Greeks competed in a similar game entitled Episkyros. Both of these pursuits reflected rules closer to rugby than modern day soccer.
The most relevant of these ancient games to our modern day "Association Football" is the Chinese game of Tsu'Chu (Tsu-Chu or Cuju, meaning "kicking the ball"). Records of the game began during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–220 A.D.) and it may have been a training exercise for soldiers.
Tsu'Chu involved kicking a small leather ball into a net strung between two bamboo poles. The use of hands was not permitted, but a player could use his feet and other parts of his body. The main difference between Tsu'Chu and soccer was the height of the goal, which hung about 30 feet from the ground.
From the introduction of Tsu'Chu onwards, soccer-like games spread throughout the world. Many cultures had activities that centered on the use of their feet, including Japan's Kemari which is still played today. The Native Americans had Pahsaherman, the Indigenous Australians played Marn Grook, and the Moari’s had Ki-o-rahi, to name a few.
The codification of soccer began in the public schools of Britain at the beginning of the 19th century.
Within the private school system "football" was a game in which the hands were used during periods of play and grappling allowed, but otherwise, the modern shape of soccer was being formed.
Two barless goals were placed at each end, goalkeepers and tactics were introduced, and high tackles outlawed. Yet, the rules varied greatly: some resembled the play of rugby, while others preferred kicking and dribbling. Space restraints did cool the game down from its violent origins, however.
The rules and regulations continued to evolve in Britain and by the 1800s dedicated soccer clubs at schools began to emerge. Again, even in its semi-organized form, the rules stretched from rugby to modern soccer. Players often tripped each other and kicking an opponent in the shins was only frowned upon when he was being held.
Over the years, schools began playing matches against one another. During this time players were still allowed to use their hands and were only permitted to pass the ball backward, as in rugby.
In 1848, the "Cambridge Rules" were established at Cambridge University. While this allowed students to move up in the ranks as they graduated and adult football clubs became more common, players could continue to handle the ball. There was still quite some way to go in producing the modern game of soccer we see today.
It did not take long for other European countries to adopt the British love for soccer. Leagues began popping up throughout the world: the Netherlands and Denmark in 1889, Argentina in 1893, Chile in 1895, Switzerland and Belgium in 1895, Italy in 1898, Germany and Uruguay in 1900, Hungary in 1901, and Finland in 1907. It was not until 1903 that France formed their league, even though they had adopted the British sport long before.
The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) was formed in Paris in 1904 with seven members. This included Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Germany announced its intention to join the same day.
In 1930, the first ever FIFA World Cup was held in Uruguay. There were 41 members of FIFA at the time and it has remained the pinnacle of the soccer world ever since. Today it boasts over 200 members and the World Cup is one of the biggest events of the year