China – Birthplace of Football (Cuju)



The Cuju (the prototype of contemporary football) is a sport of ancient Chinese. It is considered to be the origin of the modern football.


Here’s an interesting bit of news to generate more heat to the feverish 2014

World Cup that is being played in Brazil.

The game of football (soccer) is recognized as the most popular sport in the world but few may know that it is one of the oldest games as well.In ancient China,the game was known as “Cuju”.

Cuju first appeared in the renowned ancient Chinese historical work Zhan Guo Ce (“Strategies of the Warring States”) compiled which described cuju as a form of entertainment among the general public.

. In the classic novel Water Margin, there are several paragraphs describing the emperor playing Cuju with officers of the court.

Later, cuju was commonly played in the army for military training purposes, during the Han Dynasty.

However, it was England that transitioned soccer, or what the British and many other people around the world call “football,” into the game we know today. The English are credited with recording the first uniform rules for the sport, including forbidding tripping opponents and touching the ball with hands.


An artifact from ancient China describes a kid playing cuju, kept at the Linzi Football Museum, Shangdong province.[Photo/IC]

Records of the game begin during the Tsin Dynasty (255-206BC) and represent a game in which soldiers competed in a training activity featuring a leather ball being kicked into a net strung between two poles. The main difference between Cuju and soccer was the height of the goal, which hung about 30 feet from the floor.

Everything began in Linzi, the capital of the Qi State during the Chun and Qiu Periods. The Cuju experienced a tremendous increase during the Han dynasty.

Cuju became very popular during the Tang and Sungdynasties. Fresco drawing a game of Cuju horse (playing Cuju on the horses), shows a scene of noble playing Cuju on horseback. The Cuju has greatly developed during the Sung dynasty.

The Cuju greatly influenced the modern football. During the Tang Dynasty, the Cuju was extended to Japan, Korea, and Western Europe, and turned into football in Britain.

On July 15, 2004, Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, at the Third International Exhibition of Chinese Football, formally announced to the world that football originated in Zibo, Shandong province, China. But not many know that the sport was originally called “cuju” in ancient China.

As a way of national culture protection, cuju was listed into the first batch of China’s intangible cultural heritages in 2006.



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