Football has its roots in ancient China, while the modern version of the game began on the streets of medieval England before evolving into the most popular sport in the world.
Modern football has its origins in the streets of medieval England. Neighbouring towns would play each other in games where a heaving mass of players would struggle to drag a pig’s bladder by any means possible to markers at either end of town.
A royal ban
Football became so violent in England it was banned by the king for more than 300 years. English public schools are credited with subsequently establishing the modern football codes, thus turning the mob riot into a sport in the 16th century.
Football first appeared on the programme of the Games of the II Olympiad, Paris 1900. It has been on the programme of each edition of the Games ever since, with the exception of Los Angeles 1932.
Europe dominated the competition until after 1992 in Barcelona, where Spain became the last European team to win a gold medal. Since the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, African and South American teams have won all the gold medals.
Also in 1996, women’s football was introduced into the Olympic programme. Three times, the USA has been on the highest step of the podium - in 1996, in 2004 in Athens and in 2008 in Beijing. But this team was beaten by the Norwegians in the final of the 2000 Games in Sydney.
Discover the reference document for Football.