Soccer Facts and Stats: The Most Important Side Activity in the World

Over four billion people regularly watch and play soccer, making it by far the most popular sport on earth.

There are all sorts of fascinating facts and stats about this sport, from the history of soccer to some amazing player statistics. So whether you are a die-hard fan or just looking to learn more about the game, keep reading for some fascinating soccer facts.

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Highlights of the Article

  • The Football Association was created in 1863.
  • Sheffield FC is the oldest soccer club in the world.
  • Nettie Honeyball created the first women’s football club, the British Ladies’ Football Club, in 1895.
  • Neymar’s transfer cost the soccer club Paris Saint-Germain €222 million in 2017.
  • Bevis Mugabi’s 2.62-meter jump is the highest recorded jump in soccer history.

Fascinating Facts About Soccer History

soccer facts

1. The history of soccer dates back to ancient China.


The first recorded soccer game was played in China over 2,000 years ago, during the Han Dynasty’s rule. The game was called cuju, played with a ball made of feathers and a two-layered hull. It was a training exercise for soldiers, with teams trying to kick a ball through the opponent’s goal.

While there are no official records of the game, it’s believed to have been popular among the military and later spread to the general population, thus making cuju the original inspiration for soccer.

2. Modern soccer was invented in Newgate Prison in London in the early 1800s.

(Steel Soccer)

Historical facts about soccer tell us a lot about the modern game we know today. A group of inmates looking for a way to stay fit and occupy their time started playing the game of football. Some versions of the story claim that the game came from inmates whose hands were cut off because of their crimes, so they made a game to play with their feet. Whatever the truth, football soon spread beyond the prison walls and became a popular sport in England.

3. The Scotland vs. England football match in 1872 was the first international game.


The match was held at the West of Scotland Cricket Club ground in Partick, Glasgow. It was a friendly game that ended in a 0-0 draw, played in front of around 4,000 spectators. FIFA recognized this event as the first international soccer match.

4. Soccer is played in every corner of the world.

(U.S. Soccer)

There are over 200 member countries of FIFA, the international governing body for soccer. It’s no wonder many interesting sports facts are soccer-related, it’s the most widely played sport in the world!

5. The Football Association was created 150 years ago in England.

(The Football Association)

The Football Association came to be in 1863, making it the oldest national football association in the world. Twelve founding members formed it to standardize the game’s rules, which the different football schools influenced. Another one of our soccer history facts tells us that all the members were based in London.

6. Sheffield FC is the oldest football club in the world.

(Wikipedia, RMC Media)

The club was founded in 1857 by a group of local cricketers, and its first recorded match occurred in October of that year. Sheffield Football Club quickly became a leading force in the development of early football, publishing the first set of rules for the game in 1858.

With such a long history, it’s no wonder many interesting facts about soccer history come from Sheffield FC: it has been awarded FIFA’s Order of Merit, and the club’s home ground, Olive Grove, is a potential UNESCO World Heritage Site.

7. There were no referees in soccer games until 1845.


One of the more interesting facts about soccer history is that before 1845, games were overseen by two umpires, each with responsibility for one soccer team. Introducing a single referee over the entire field helped solve many judging disputes during the game.

8. Nettie Honeyball founded the first women’s association soccer club in 1895.


The club was called the British Ladies’ Football Club. Although women’s soccer had been played informally for centuries, Honeyball was the first to establish a team with formal rules and structure. She also helped organize the first women’s soccer match in 1895. Honeyball continued to advocate for women’s soccer throughout her life and is credited with helping popularize the sport.

9. The first live soccer game was televised in 1937.

(The Guardian)

The match between Arsenal and Arsenal Reserve aired on the BBC. Although some advanced soccer stats insist that live broadcasts of soccer matches existed before 1937, this was the first time such an event was televised. There were not as many households with television access at the time, and the game was only broadcasted for 15 minutes. Nevertheless, it was a momentous event that forever changed how people watched and experienced this game.

10. The first World Cup happened in 1930.


Uruguay was chosen as the host nation because it was home to two-time Olympic champions and was celebrating the centenary of its constitution this year. Thirteen teams participated in the inaugural FIFA World Cup, including seven from South America, three from Europe, and one from North America, Asia, and Africa.

Speaking of historical soccer facts, the first World Cup was an immediate success, with almost 70,000 spectators attending the final match between Uruguay and Argentina, with both countries being considered “football nations” that boasted both impeccable soccer skills and an avid following among fans.

11. The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia was the most-watched football event in the world.


Around 3.57 billion viewers watched this sports event. 3.262 billion people viewed the soccer championship from home, while 309.7 million watched online and 1.12 billion people watched the final game between France and Croatia in July 2015.

12. English Premier League, one of the most popular competitions, was founded in 1992.

(Premier League, Wikipedia)

The Premier League is currently home to 20 soccer teams, all of which play each other twice throughout the season. One of the more interesting soccer facts is that only six teams were never relegated from the league.

13. Only eight countries have won the FIFA World Cup.

(Anadolu Agency)

The only countries to win the Fifa World Cup are Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, England, France, and Spain. Brazil has won the most times, taking home five victories. Italy and Germany have each won four times, while Argentina and Uruguay have each won twice. Italy also reached the finals in the 1970 World Cup thanks to its effective use of catenaccio but was defeated 4-1 by the aggressive, attacking Brazilian team.

14. An average soccer player runs 7 miles during a game.

(Soccer Blade)

Soccer is known as a physically demanding sport. Players constantly run, sprint, and change directions in a typical soccer game that lasts 90 minutes. They are athletes with superb physical performance.

It’s not surprising that an average soccer player can cover a distance of seven miles during a single game. However, this number can vary depending on the player’s position on the soccer field. For example, midfielders often run the most during a game, while defenders tend to cover less ground.

15. The world’s largest soccer stadium is in North Korea.

(Wikipedia, Olympics)

The Rungrado 1st of May Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, is frequently mentioned in various soccer facts lists because it’s the largest stadium in the world, with a capacity to accept 114,000 people. It was built in 1989 and has since been used for many events, including soccer matches, athletics competitions, and concerts.

16. Artificial grass is better for soccer games.

(Master Soccer Mind)

Artificial grass provides a consistent playing surface that isn’t affected by weather conditions. It’s also easier to maintain than natural grass, and it can withstand heavy use without becoming damaged. Artificial grass is available in various colors, allowing teams to customize their fields.

17. The largest floating stadium is in Singapore.

(ResearchGate, Interpcan)

We can’t skip Marina Bay Floating Platform when talking about soccer. This outdoor venue was built for the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games. It seats 30,000 people and can be accessed by either land or water. The stadium is made of metal and supported by six pylons on the sea.

18. In 1964, 300 people died in Peru following the referee’s decision.


Peru and Argentina were scheduled to play a World Cup qualifying match in Lima. However, the game was postponed due to a torrential downpour. When they finally played the game, the conditions were highly unfavorable, with the muddy and slippery field. As a result, the game was very physical, with both soccer teams committing several fouls.

This leads us to the soccer injury stats related to this game. Peru scored 1-0, but the referee’s decision to disallow the goal for Peru in the dying minutes led to riots in the stands. The situation quickly deteriorated, and 300 people ended up dying in the ensuing violence, and over 500 were injured. The incident remains one of the worst disasters in football history.

19. A soccer field is called a pitch.

(Your Soccer Home)

Soccer’s designated playing space got its name in the 1800s. Since soccer was initially played on cricket pitches, instead of calling it a soccer field, use the term “pitch” next time you want to impress someone with your knowledge of soccer facts and history.

20. The first soccer ball was made out of animal bladders.

(How Products Are Made, The Guardian)

Another item on our list of soccer facts is that early soccer balls were often made out of inflated pig or sheep bladders. In the 1800s, Charles Goodyear created a vulcanized rubber soccer ball, which made soccer balls more bouncy and easier to control. Today, virtually all soccer balls are made out of synthetic materials such as polyurethane or PVC.

Amazing Facts About Soccer Players

21. In 2022, Lionel Messi will be the highest-paid soccer player in the world.

(FOX43, Forbes)

The Paris Saint-Germain star reportedly earned an annual salary of $130 million, with $55 million coming from his off-field sponsorship deals. He is considered one of the best football players in the world.

22. Bevis Mugabi had the highest jump in soccer.

(Mobile Premier League, The Herald)

Occasionally, football players pull off amazing athletic feats. Soccer player stats tell us that the previous record for the highest jump in a competitive soccer match was held by Cristiano Ronaldo, who jumped 2.56 meters (8 feet 4 inches) in the air. Mugabi’s jump was recorded at 2.62 meters (8 feet 6 inches), just edging out Ronaldo’s previous record.

23. Neymar holds the highest transfer record.


Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as a forward for Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazil national soccer team. He is widely considered one of the best players in the world with impressive soccer game stats and one of the highest-paid footballers.

24. Diego Maradona holds the record for suffering the most fouls in a World Cup.

(FIFA, Wikipedia, The New York Times)

The Argentine player is widely regarded as one of the best soccer players of all time, and his accomplishments on the field are numerous. However, Maradona was also infamous for his temperamental nature and propensity for getting into trouble, which ultimately became an integral part of his soccer stats.

Maradona holds the record for most fouls in a match, with 23 of those committed during a game between Argentina and Italy in 1991. He also holds the dubious distinction of being the player who has committed the most fouls in World Cup history, with 53 of them at Mexico in 1986.

25. Gavin Stokes has the fastest goal in soccer history.

(The Scottish Sun, Wikipedia)

In the soccer world, speed is everything. This is why our list of interesting facts about soccer wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Gavin Stokes, a player who holds the record for the fastest goal in soccer history.

In a 2017 match, Stokes made a shot into the back of Clydebank’s net in just 2.1 seconds. This display of precision gave the Maryhill fans something to celebrate and cemented Stokes’s place in soccer history.

26. Lee Todd earned the fastest red card.

(Sport Bible)

Todd, who was playing soccer for Cross Park Farm Celtic, was given a red card for swearing just two seconds into the match. The referee, Peter Kearle, passed by Lee Todd and blew a whistle for kick-off. Aggravated by the loud sound in his ears, Lee Todd used foul language to show his displeasure.

Kearle immediately gave Todd the red card, and the soccer player ended up fined £27 and missed games for 35 days.


Soccer is a sport that has been around for centuries, and in that time, it spawned some amazing soccer fun facts and statistics. So next time you watch a game or play yourself, let these fun facts inspire you.


What are five historical facts about soccer?
  • England and Scotland played the first-ever international soccer match in 1872.
  • In 1863, the Football Association in England created the first set of soccer rules.
  • The first World Cup was held in 1930.
  • The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia was the most-watched sports event globally.
  • Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, England, France, and Spain are the only countries that have won the FIFA World Cup.
Why are there 32 panels on a soccer ball?

Facts about soccer tell us that each panel on a traditional soccer ball represents one of 32 European countries. Another reason behind using 32 panels is that it creates a more spherical shape of the inflated soccer ball.

Who first invented soccer?

The game of soccer is thought to have originated in China. However, the first official soccer game record came from England in the 12th century. In the early form of the game, players could use fists or legs to hit the ball.

What are three facts about soccer?
  • Soccer is a sport that people of all ages and abilities enjoy.
  • Soccer facts state that the game originated in China.
  • In the game’s early days, players could use fists or legs to hit the ball.