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British Culture – Why is Football so Popular in England?


With the World Cup less than a month away, we are starting to see England flags being sold in shops, attached to cars and hanging from house windows. This is the time when English people are most patriotic (showing love and pride for your country), apart from royal weddings perhaps!

Football is a very popular sport in many countries around the world and many people become obsessed with the teams they support. This quote from former footballer and manager Bill Shankly describes it in a nice way:

 “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I’m very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

Although football is considered important (even a way of life sometimes) all around the world, there is a particular obsession in England which may be because of the sport’s history.

Why is England considered the home of football?

England is considered the home of football and many people believe that the sport originated in England. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Football was first played in England in medieval times and there is written evidence of the game being played as early as 1170!
  • The Football Association (The FA) was set up in England in 1863 and in the same year, the modern rules that we know and play by today were set up.  
  • The world’s first football club was set up in England (Sheffield F.C. in 1857).
  • The world’s first national competition (the FA Cup) started in England in 1871.
  • England formed the first national football team and the world’s first international football match was played in England (England vs Scotland in 1872).
  • The first national football league began in England in 1888.
  • Today, there are over 40,000 registered football clubs in England – more than any other country! (Brazil has the second highest amount, 29,000).
  • The Premier League (England’s top league) is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world.

    England football 1893

    English national football team, 1893

Why is football so popular?

There are a few reasons why people believe that football is so popular, more popular than any other sport in England.

The main reason why football is so popular is because football is so easy to play! All you need is a ball, 2 goals and some friends to play with! You don’t even need real equipment either – many people create goalposts from pieces of clothing or marks on the ground and a ball can be made of plastic bags and string!

In addition, there are very few rules in football compared to other sports so it can be very enjoyable to play and watch.

Can you think of any other reasons why football is so popular?

Why is Football so Popular in England - An English Football FanEngland and the World Cup

Even though England is home to the oldest international football club in the world, we have only actually won the World Cup once, in 1966! Let’s hope for some success this year in Brazil!

If you are learning English at Bloomsbury International, remember to look out for our social activities in June. We will be running some World Cup themed activities, including watching matches in a typical English pub!

Have fun with English

Football vocabulary

Can you unscramble these words to find English football terms? Look up the meanings in a dictionary or ask your English teacher.

1. erreeef

2. fedednreSoccer Stadium

3. tirerks

4. kegarleeop

5. busuittets

6. foidfes

7. olfu

8. lkecat

9. neatlyp

10. lewloy dcra

Last week’s answers

Quiz – Kings and Queens of England

1. Which king is famous for having six wives? Henry VIII
2. Which king gave us the Union Jack? James I
3. Which King was only 9 years old when he became king? Henry III
4. In 1483, which king reigned for only 2 months? Edward V
5. Which queen is known as Bloody Mary? Mary I
6. Which king is known as the Lionheart? Richard I

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