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Updated: 18/05/2006

History of Soccer

The major changes in Folk Football occurred in the schools and Universities. The value of sport in children's upbringing was becoming popular and was fostered by "Tom Brown's School Days". Each school or institution had their own set of rules which often changed depending on the circumstances and a person of today would hardly recognise the games as soccer or rugby. In 1823 at Rugby school William Webb Ellis (or some other student) gasped the ball and ran with it, however the first set of rules at Rugby School date from 1843. Eton school had preceded them by 2 years. In 1837 Cambridge University decided on a set of rules which disallowed handling of the ball.

Generally it is thought that the Cambridge rules led to soccer and the Rugby/Eaton rules to rugby, however the reality was that their was much comprise locally.

The plague at right is from a Guernsey Minature Sheet celebrating 150 years of football on the Island. It shows a stamp of England winning the World Cup in 1966 and of FIFA President from 1921-1954, Jules Rimet.

A 1 cor denomination stamp (Sc 1398, SG 2643) issued by Nicaragua for the 1986 World Cup, showed football in England in1846.

In 1848 former students of Cambridge University tried to find a common denominator for the various rules. This was unsuccessful. By the late 1850's several clubs had been formed which favoured the kicking game. This included Eaton and Harrow Schools, and Sheffield (1857) and Hallam (1859) who played the first interclub match (under the Sheffield Rules) in 1860. Meetings at Cambridge again tried to unite the games, but again they were unsuccessful. This led to the Formation of the Football Association in 1863 comprising 11 clubs. The name soccer comes from the middlepart of the word association.

The triangular stamp at left, issued by Monaco (SG 774) shows Wembley Stadium and commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the Football Association.

In 1865 the first overseas club joined, being Argentinean Club, Buenos Aires FC and in 1867 the first Scottish Club joined. In 1870 the FA banned the handling of the ball by any player except the Goal Keeper. This meant the two codes were now reconcilably different and there was no going back.

In the first club competition "The FA Cup" was commenced and the first international between Scotland and England occurred.

A 1 cor denomination stamp (Sc 1397, SG 2642) shown at right was issued by Nicaragua for the 1986 World Cup, It showed football in England in1872.

Sharjah and Dependencies issued a set of 7 stamps  to celebrate the 1966 World Cup. They were issued in blocks of four both perforate and imperforate. The 1/2r denomination stamp (SG 246)  shows a match at Kennington Oval in 1879. Kennington Oval, or the Oval, as it is more commonly known, is more famous for the Surrey Cricket Club and test matches. It is

where the AFL plays it overseas Exhibition Games when in London.

A 2 cor denomination stamp (Sc 1399, SG 2644)  was issued by Nicaragua for the 1986 World Cup, It showed football in England in1883.

Both Monaco (SG 781) ( stamp shown at left) and Nicaragua issued part of a painting of a soccer game in 1890 by Owerend. The Nicaraguan stamp, a 4 cor denomination stamp (Sc 1400, SG 2645)  was issued to commemorate the 1986 World Cup,

FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association was formed in 1904.

This international football community grew steadily, although it sometimes met with obstacles and setbacks, notably the withdrawal of the UK over the inclusion of Germany. In 1912, 21 national associations were already affiliated to FIFA. By 1925, the number had increased to 36, in 1930 - the year of the first World Cup - it was 41, in 1938, 51 and in 1950, after the interval caused by the Second World War, the number had reached 73. At present, after the 2000 Ordinary FIFA Congress, FIFA had 204 members in every part of the world.

The first World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930 and was also won by the host nation. Australia played in the 1974 World Cup in Germany. After the 2002 World Cup FIFA decided that  the winner of the Oceania group will have direct access to the 2006 World Cup.

1 Stamps

Australia has issued 2 stamps commemorating soccer. The stamp above at right is part of the 1989 Sports Definitive Issue. It included a
FDC. and Maximum Card. It was issued on the 22nd August 1991. The stamp above left is part of the issue for the 1976 XXI Olympic Games in Montreal.
On the 14th October 2003 Australia issued a 50c stamp to encourage exercise in patients with asthma. It showed five types of exercise, soccer, skipping, climbing, surfing
and skateboarding.
The maximum card and FDC showed swimming.
The soccer player (enlarged at right) is depicted in the lower left hand corner of the stamp. (at left)


A PSE was issued on the 14th January 1993 for the VII World Youth Championships for the FIFA Coca-Cola Cup.

3. Postmarks


Date Issue


Post Office


APM1174 22/10/56 1956 Melbourne Olympics Melbourne  
APM21052 13/2/89 1989 Sports Issue FDC Sydney 2000
APM22146 13/4/90 to 16/4/90 4th Suncorp Nth Qld Games in which soccer was played Mackay 4740
APM23690 22/8/91 Sports Series III Parramatta 2150
14/1/93 World Youth Soccer Championship Sydney
Philatelic Bureau
APM33140 13/9/00- Hindmarsh Stadium Olympic Soccer Hindmarsh 5007
APM33221 15/9/00-1/10/00 2000 Sydney Olympics Sydney 2000

4. Personalised Stamps
Boxing Kangaroo Booklet issued on 13/8/2004 with label showing Kangaroo playing Soccer.

Sydney 2000 Olympic Soccer
The 2000 Olympic Soccer tournament was the only Olympic sport that was also held outside Sydney. Matches were played at Stadium Australia, the Sydney Football Stadium, the MCG (covers of Chile v Morocco and USA v China), the Gabba in Brisbane (cover of Brazil v Slovakia), the Bruce Stadium in Canberra and the Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide (covers of Spain v Korea and Nigeria v Honduras).

The men's competition has 16 sides and the majority of the players must be under 23. The competition was won by Cameroon with Spain winning the silver and Chile the Bronze.

The women's competition has 8 sides and players must be over 16. Norway won the Gold from the USA and Germany took the Bronze.

Soccer Philately is by far the largest branch of Football Philately. It is the most popular code and together with the World Cup and the Olympics there is a wealth of collecting material. Please visit the websites in the panel on the right especially the Soccer Stamps site.