The History of the Footie


Rattan football from Burma, collection of the British Museum
Rattan football from Burma, collection of the British Museum

Just when everyone in town has lost or triumphed with their favorite team, the British Museum gives us some historical context for this beloved contest.  How did we get here?  Take a look at what their curators have to say about it.

Says David Francis of the British Museum,

“Liverpool manager Bill Shankly’s famously said ‘Some people believe football is a matter of life and death …. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.’ His quote would have been more appropriate, however, if he’d been talking about the Central American ball game. Whereas in modern football a major penalty miss can result in a hate campaign from the tabloids, mistakes in the ballgame could be even more costly. Reliefs exist depicting the participants of the ball game being sacrificed after a match and some scholars think that playing the game was believed to be linked to the rising and setting of the sun.”

The museum has some terrific objects related to the different games that evolved around the world and combined into what the rest of the world calls “football”.


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