Believable (True) and Not So Believable (Weird) Soccer Fun Facts:
In many parts of the world soccer is known as football and is being played in more than 200 countries.
Approximately 250 million people play soccer around the world every year, and it has been an Olympic sport since 1900.
It has also been a Paralympics sport since 1984.
Players have to score without the use of their hands or their arms. Only the goalies are allowed to touch the ball with their hands.
In the early 1800s, soccer was invented in Newgate Prison in London by prisoners who had been punished for stealing. Their punishment had been to have their hands cut off.
A soccer ball has 32 panels; each one represents one of the 32 countries in Europe.
The first soccer nets were actually wicker baskets.
Up until 1908, they made soccer balls from the (inflated) stomach tissue from executed prisoners.
The USSA was the first American professional soccer league. They played from 1919 for two years. They were paid $0.35 every time they scored.
Soccer fields are called pitches. Pitch and slope have the same meaning in soccer. If the field is a regulation field, it slopes 5 degrees up, from one end of the field to the other.
Teams switch goal nets during the game so they both have the same uphill slope for half the game.
Originally the World Cup was made of paper Mache.
The heavy rain in the 1950 competition ruined the cup and it had to be replaced.
A 13-year-old Brazilian soccer player scored every goal of 23 in total, during a game that his team won 23-0.
In 1998, a lightning bolt killed an entire team during a soccer game. The 11 players of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nobody on the opposite team was hurt.
A bad referee call in a game in 1964 in Peru caused a riot that resulted in the deaths of 300 people.
A goal scored after people had begun to leave the stadium during a game in 1982 in Moscow resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people. When the goal was scored and people tried to get back to their seats, the result was stampede and 340 people died.
In one game it is common for a player to run approximately 6 miles. This would be equal to running back and forth on a basketball court 350 times.
Soccer is even popular in third world countries. If villages cannot afford a soccer ball, they will use balls that they’ve made with diapers or rags.
Until 1991, soccer was an illegal sport in Mississippi.
Professional soccer players were not allowed in the Olympics until 1984.
They were permitted to play as long as they were in the Under-23 level.
Women soccer teams have been able to play in the Olympics since 1996.