A little history

    No one knows exactly when or how football was born, but we do know that in the ancient civilisations of China, Greece and Rome, people played something similar.


    Football's oldest ancestor seems to be the Chinese game of "cuju". Very popular in the 2nd Century BCE, the game involved kicking a leather ball through a hole cut into a piece of silk hanging between two 10m-high posts.

    Medieval Europeans played ‘soule'. This sport, involving tapping a ball with the foot, was played in schools and universities on both sides of the Channel. In 1835, playing soule on roads was banned, so players turned to enclosed spaces. It was on these school fields that modern football began, little by little, to be born. At that time, each different team had its own rules, making matches difficult. It was the English Football Association, founded in 1863, that published the ‘laws of football', allowing all teams to play in the same way.

    From the end of the 19th Century, the popularity of football went on growing. It spread rapidly thanks to the British, first in Europe, then in South America, then in North America, Africa, Asia and Australasia. In Paris in 1904, French journalist Robert Guérin founded FIFA (the International Federation for Association Football), football's world governing body. It now has 208 members, with the goal of promoting international cooperation.

    Football is a universal sport that brings together rich and poor, boys and girls, players and supporters. It is, par excellence, the sport for everyone!


    Throughout its history, football has given us many iconic players. We can't list them all (the FIFA 100 counts down the 125 best players), but we'll remind ourselves of a few, all the same:

    The champions

    Pelé: this great Brazilian champion scored over 1000 goals during his career.
    Michel Platini: captain of the French team that became European champions in 1984, Platini was named several times the best striker in Italy.
    Diego Maradona: winner of the World Cup for Argentina in 1986, Maradona was often praised for his famous left-foot.
    Zinedine Zidane: winner of the World Cup for France in 1998.
    Lionel Messi: many see Messi as the best footballer in the world today.
    Ronaldo: this great Brazilian striker is nicknamed "the phenomenon".

    World Champions

    Brazil has won the World Cup 5 times, in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. A record!
    Germany has won three World Cups, in 1954, 1974 and 1990.
    Italy has won four World Cups, in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006.

    The great clubs

    Real Madrid has won 31 titles, including 7 Spanish Cups (the Copa del Rey) and 11 European trophies.
    AC Milan has won 17 titles, including 5 Italian Cups (the Coppa d'Italia) and 9 European trophies.
    Liverpool FC has won 18 titles, including 7 FA Cups and 8 European trophies.


    French football's finest hour came on 12 July 1998, when France, playing at home, won the World Cup for the first time. Captained by Didier Deschamps and supported by a delirious crowd in the Stade de France, the French beat Brazil 3-0.