|Antique Style 1910 Soccer Ball
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Antique and early soccer balls have become almost impossible to find. They
have been used to death or retired to some deep attics of the world. When
found they bring museum prices. The rich history and tradition of the early
game and the fine leathers used to hand make these early soccer balls has
given them a high honor in sports artifact
The origin of soccer can be found in every corner of geography and history.
The Italians, Chinese, Japanese, Egyptians, Ancient Greeks, Toltecs, Native
American Indians, Persians, Central Americans, Scottish Clans, Vikings
and Assyrians played a ball game long before our era. Later, the Roman
harpastum, using a bull's bladder, reached the shores of the Atlantic
when the legions conquered Gaul. This game led the way to soule, considered
together with the Florentine calcio which emerged during the Renaissance,
as the real ancestor of football.
Soccer and handball games reach back to the first steps of the human
race. Over thousands of years, ancient communities introduced rules to
their elementary play of kicking and throwing. Games also embellished
religious or tribal festivals. The Chinese played "football"
games at least 3000 years ago. It is suspected strongly that the shadowy
Celtic nations of Europe and the Vikings had rather nasty football ceremonies.
In South and Central America a game called "Tlatchi" once flourished.
The Ancient Greeks and the Romans used football games to sharpen warriors
for battle. Roman games such as Harpastum or Paganica, which all had elements
of kicking or running with the ball, spread Europe-wide with their empire's
All major innovations in soccer were English, such as international matches
(between England and Scotland, in 1872), the introduction of professionalism
(1885), and the first full-time league (1888). Soccer was carried to continental
Europe, South America, and India by British sailors and settlers, and
it gained instant appeal wherever it was demonstrated. In 1908 the sport
was made a regular Olympic Games event, and since 1952, Hungary has won
the most gold medals (three).
From 1863 to 1872, Association Football was scarcely a success. Teams
often ignored the new rules. Most serious clubs were for gentlemen only.
It was the introduction of the FA Cup and international matches that saved
the game from ignominy, although for many years, up to the mid-1890s,
Rugby Union became the premier code, drawing vast crowds for the era in
the North of England.
With the surge of interest created by cup competition, "the new
game" was also transformed by the advent of inexpensive, mass-produced
equipment. Smooth, round balls, lighter despite their thick skin of leather,
demanded flat pitches and better playing technique. Quite rapidly there
evolved a game radically different from any football played anywhere previously.
And thus flowered the magnetic spectacle still recognizable over 100 years
The world's first league was formed in April 1888. The driving force
was William McGregor, a Scottish shopkeeper, teetotal and deeply religious
chairman of the Aston Villa club in Birmingham, which later became the
world's first "super club." The league came just in time for
Football, which was struggling to find its true role yet again after the
legalization of professional teams in 1885. The forces of amateurism,
then represented by the public schools and universities and their powerful
position in British society, still saw paid play as an evil.
However, strictly organized weekly league competition proved to be the
foundation stone of the professional game. And also the foundation stone
for an amazing series of printed paper cards, the so called "Baines
cards" - the first brilliant commercial project to spring from popular
sports with mass appeal.
Soccer's international governing body FIFA, was formed in 1904 with the
objective of organizing championship matches between professional teams
of different nations. Professionalism arrived in continental Europe in
the 1920s and in South America less than a decade later. By 1930 the interest
in soccer was high enough to ensure the success of the first World Cup,
even though only 13 countries entered.
Soccer arrived in the United States during the middle 19th century, but
its first widespread nationwide sanction did not take place until the
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) recognized (1959) it as
an official collegiate sport with a national championship tournament.
Soon after the formation (1967) of the North American Soccer League (NASL),
the sport became the fastest growing in the United States for young people.
The critical turning point for soccer in the United States was Pele's
joining the New York Cosmos of the NASL in 1975. Perhaps history's greatest
player (he led Brazil to World Cup triumphs in 1958, 1962, and 1970),
he attracted fans in record numbers to NASL contests and inspired many
young people to try the game.
No team sport approaches soccer's popularity in both Europe and South
America. The professional leagues on these continents play from fall through
spring in domestic competition, after which the top teams take part in
international "cup," or tournament, play. The European Cup (1955)
is the most prestigious on that continent. The best tournament in South
America is the Liberatadores Cup (1960) and is usually won by a team from
Argentina. Those two cup winners than meet for the annual World Club Championship.
In 2000, a true world club championship was established by FIFA. The FIFA
Club World Championship pitted the top clubs from every continent of the
world for the first time ever. The inaugural tournament was held in one
of the most soccer loving nations in the world, Brazil. Not surprisingly,
the final was between two of the big Brazilian club teams: Vasco da Gama
and Corinthians. Corinthians went on to capture the first championship
and show the world that European clubs do not have a monopoly on club
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