Soccer is much a religion as it is a sport. Followed by almost every country, soccer stars are often meted out God like treatment! Here are some interesting soccer facts you probably didn’t know:
1. The word ‘soccer’ is a distortion of the original phrase ‘association of football’. It is widely recognized as ‘football’, except in North America.
2. The World Cup finals have always seen European countries, except in 1930 and 1950!
3. An interesting fact is that the soccer ball we see today may have its origins in the human head! One of the theories suggests that around 250 BC, the balls were made of animal skin.
4. The FA Cup (Football Association Challenge Cup) is the oldest soccer competition in the world.
5. The first player to perform the famous ‘bicycle kick’ was Ramon Unzaga from Chile. He performed the kick in the El Morro Stadium of Chile in 1914.
6. India qualified for the 1950 World Cup but later withdrew because FIFA did not allow them to play barefoot! Such was the level of comfort playing without shoes that they withdrew when they were asked to play with them.
7. During a match, Italian goalie Grosso was sent off of the field for offending the referee by suggesting he needed glasses. However, it was later discovered that Grosso owned an optician’s shop and was said to have been handing out helpful advice.
8. Martinho Eduardo Orige of Brazil holds the World Record in juggling the soccer ball for a staggering 19.5 hours. He made this record in August 2003.
9. Brazil holds the World Record for winning the World Cup the greatest number of times. It has won the World Cup five times since 1930.
10. Chile was banned from the 1994 World Cup because during the qualifying match in 1990, the goalkeeper Rojas faked being hit by a firework! He was banned for life.