Was football a brutal sport to begin with?

Was football a brutal sport to begin with?

Football's origins can be traced back to various ancient and medieval ball games, some of which were quite brutal compared to the modern version of the sport. Early forms of football were often unorganized, violent, and involved few rules or regulations, which led to the game being perceived as dangerous and chaotic.


One early example of a football-like game is "mob football," which was played in medieval England. In mob football, there were few rules, and the objective was to move an inflated animal bladder or a leather ball through a town or village to a designated goal. The game often involved large numbers of people, with players using any means necessary, including kicking, punching, and grappling, to advance the ball. As a result, injuries and even fatalities were not uncommon.

Another example is "calcio storico" or "historical football," an early form of football that originated in Renaissance Italy. This game was a mix of football, rugby, and wrestling, and was known for its violence and lack of strict rules. Calcio storico was played on sand-covered pitches with teams of 27 players each, and the objective was to throw or kick the ball into the opposing team's goal. The game allowed punching, kicking, and tackling, and it was known for its brutality.


Over time, the sport evolved, and various forms of football emerged with more structured rules and regulations. In the 19th century, schools and clubs in England began to standardize the rules of football, leading to the formation of the modern versions of soccer and rugby. These modern versions of the sport are considerably less violent than their earlier counterparts, with rules in place to protect player safety and penalize dangerous play.


Tackling: Slide tackles must be performed carefully, and players are not allowed to tackle an opponent from behind or with excessive force. Reckless or dangerous tackles can result in yellow or red cards, depending on the severity.

Fouls: Fouls such as tripping, pushing, striking, or holding an opponent are penalized with a free kick or a penalty kick for the opposing team.

Heading: Recent guidelines have been introduced to reduce the risk of head injuries, particularly for youth players. Some organizations have restricted or banned heading in training or matches for younger age groups.

Equipment: Players are required to wear appropriate equipment, including shin guards, to protect themselves from injury. Additionally, soccer boots with metal studs are subject to regulation to minimize the risk of injury to other players.

Concussion protocols: Teams must follow strict protocols for players suspected of having a concussion, including removing the player from the field and not allowing them to return until they are cleared by a medical professional.

While football has its roots in brutal and sometimes violent early games, the sport has evolved over time to become more organized and less dangerous. Today, football is governed by strict rules and regulations to ensure player safety and fair competition.