Incredible & Fun Soccer Facts That Might Surprise You

soccer facts

Soccer, also known as football in many parts of the world, is not just a sport; it’s a global phenomenon with a rich history and countless tales. Here are some intriguing soccer facts about this beloved sport that might surprise even its most ardent fans:

  1. Why is Football Called “Soccer” in the US? One of the most common questions about soccer in the US is why it is called “soccer” instead of its more commonly known name, “football.” The term “soccer” actually originated in Britain in the late 19th century as a shortened form of “association football”. So that it can be distinguished from other forms of football like rugby and American football. Today, soccer remains the most widely used term for the sport in North America, while “football” is still dominant in most other parts of the world.
  2. Origins of Soccer: While modern soccer as we know it began in England in the 19th century (1863), ancient civilizations like the Chinese, Egyptians, and Greeks played games that resembled soccer thousands of years ago. The Chinese game ‘cuju’, which dates back to the Han Dynasty, is often cited as the earliest form of soccer.
  3. World’s Most Popular Sport: Over 4 billion fans worldwide follow soccer, making it the most popular sport. The FIFA World Cup, held every four years, witnesses viewership numbers that dwarf other global sporting events, with over a billion people tuning in for the finals.
  4. The Fastest Red Card: Former Sheffield United man Keith Gillespie holds the record for the fastest red card in a football match. He received it within 0 seconds into a game while playing for Sheffield United against Reading in 2006/07 season. He subbed in and then immediately got sent off!
  5. Innovative Cards: Yellow and red cards weren’t always part of soccer. They were introduced in the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico as a way to ensure that players from all nations understood the referee’s decisions, regardless of language barriers.
  6. Most Goals in a Calendar Year: Lionel Messi broke the record for the most goals in a calendar year in 2012. He scored an astonishing 91 goals, surpassing the previous record of 85 held by Gerd Müller since 1972. Sounds like a GOAT.
  7. Longest Soccer Game: The longest soccer match ever played lasted 3 hours and 23 minutes. Between English clubs Stockport County and Doncaster Rovers at Edgeley Park on March 30, 1946.
  8. Most Hat Tricks of All-Time: Most players would be happy to get one hat trick in their entire career. Currently, the active players with the most are Cristiano Ronaldo with 63 and Lionel Messi with 57! However, the record holder for the most number of hat tricks of all time is German footballer Erwin Helmchen with an incredible 141+ hat tricks.
  9. The Golden Boot: The FIFA World Cup’s top goal-scorer is awarded the Golden Boot. And the first recipient of this prestigious award was Guillermo Stabile (Argentina) in 1930. He scored a record-breaking 8 goals in the 1930 Uruguay World Cup.
  10. The Fastest Goal in FIFA World Cup: 11 Seconds! Scored by Hakan Sukur of Turkey against South Korea in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
  11. Most World Cup Wins: The national teams of Brazil have won the FIFA World Cup five (5) times. Making them the most successful country in the tournament’s history. Germany and Italy are not far behind by winning four (4) World Cups each.
  12. Highest Scoring Game: The highest-scoring game ever was between Madagascar’s AS Adema and SO l’Emyrne in 2002. SOE deliberately scored 149 own goals in protest against a prior refereeing decision, resulting in a 149-0 scoreline.
  13. The ‘Golden Goal’ Rule: Introduced in the 1993, the ‘Golden Goal’ was a method to determine the winner of a match that went into extra time. The first team to score during the extra time would instantly win the game. However, it was scrapped in 2004 due to criticisms and unintended negative impacts on the gameplay. Now, a winner is determined after two 15-minute overtime periods. If the game is still tied, it will be decided through a penalty shootout.
  14. Soccer and the Nobel Peace Prize: Did you know that soccer once got a nod from the Nobel Peace Prize? In 2001, Swedish lawmaker Lars Gustafsson nominated Soccer for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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