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The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) says that at least 240 million people worldwide play soccer today. These are photos of those who played soccer in the past.

Today, when we think of the history of soccer, we often think "Great Britain." But the game has 2000 year old roots in China - or maybe Greece, Rome, or parts of Central America. Who really knows? But whatever its roots, soccer is now a worldwide popular game. Called "football" in much of the world, soccer was first given a fixed set of rules in England - for instance, forbidding the tripping of opponents and not allowing the touching of the ball with your hands.

With a modern history of over 100 years - the Football Association, called the FA, was formed in 1863 England - soccer is not only a professional game but also played in schools of all levels and as an amateur sport by adults - men and women. While the rules have changed over the past century plus, the equipment (which is minimal - just a ball and a goal/net) and what players wear have largely remained the same.

These are some fun facts about soccer:

  • Arthur Friedenreich scored 1,329 goals, playing for Brazil for over 26 years. This makes him the top scoring "footballer" - soccer player - in world history.
  • Although soccer is more popular in the rest of the world, it is still watched by more people in the U.S. than hockey and car racing.
  • The word "soccer" was originally the nickname for Association Football in Great Britain. Later on, the word was adopted by the U.S. to differentiate the game from American football.
  • Sean Connery - considered by the Boomer generation to be the "real" James Bond - was offered a soccer contract with Manchester United in 1953. Connery obviously chose an acting career rather than a footballing career.
  • During a pro soccer game, players can run, on average, 4 - 8 miles. That's more than any other sport.
  • Known as "football" in most of the world and as "soccer" in the U.S., the original name for the game was "basket ball." Why? In the beginning, the goals were overturned wicker baskets.
  • The original World Cup trophy was made of paper-mâché. But the trophy dissolved in the rain so the material was changed in 1950. The cup is now made of 18 carat gold with a malachite base.

So enjoy these old photos of people playing soccer - or is it "football" or "basket ball"?

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Taken in .
A photo of soccer being played at Roosevelt Stadium, State Route 440 &... more
Shared on Dec 26, 2011 by
Taken at San Jose High School, San Jose, CA USA in .
George Mather in "The Bell" yearbook, 1926, San Jose High School's soccer... more
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Shared on Sep 1, 2011 by
Taken in .
A photo of the mascot for the Scottish football team (soccer in America) the... more
Shared on Feb 26, 2016 by
Taken in .
A photo of Ernest Augustus Mettam on the Gainsborough Trinity Football Club 1909
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Shared on Jun 22, 2015 by
A photo of Kenneth Brankling in a football club.
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Shared on Sep 11, 2014 by
A photo of Kenneth Brankling in a football club.
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Shared on Sep 11, 2014 by
A photo of David B. Pacheco playing soccer.
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Shared on Apr 21, 2013 by
Taken in Gonaives, Haiti in .
Haitian soccer team in Gonaives, Haiti in 1960. (L) to (R )-Phedre... more
Shared on Jun 4, 2012 by
Taken in .
Football match on 'Y' field on Ap. 4, 1942 between Greek Air Force & 'Y'... more
Shared on Jan 10, 2012 by
Taken in Annapolis, MD in .
A photo of a U.S. Naval Academy soccer player.
Shared on Jan 9, 2012 by