Soccer's origins in 1830s England were part of an effort in working class communities to keep children engaged in positive activity. It became a popular sport among children, and parents happily supported it because it kept the community youth out of trouble both at home and school. The young soccer players not only benefited from the physical activity, but they also learned teamwork and other social skills for adulthood.
The first official clubs formed in Sheffield in 1857, and within ten years, the clubs had a sufficient membership to form an association. It was called the Football Association because for much of the world, that is what the sport is called. In the United States, it is called soccer, but throughout much of the rest of the world it is known as football, and the sport North Americans think of football is called American football.
After the first matches between associations such as the Sheffield Football Association and the London Football Association, the clubs decided that official rules were needed that could be followed between clubs. The groups got together and began trying to establish rules that everyone would approve, but there were many issues that could not be resolved. Although they eventually came up with rules, part of the group branched off and created the Rugby Football Union.
Soccer first entered the United States through the upper class; it was played by schoolboys and college men, but there was not a formal soccer club until 1862 when the Boston Oneida soccer club was formed. Generally, this is considered the first club to carry a regular roster, because until this time pick-up games were the norm. The club was an elite subsection of the population that would play against pick-up teams. Throughout the four-year history of the Oneida Soccer Club, they never lost a game.
Soccer really began to gain a place in North America in the 1920's. The American Soccer League that was founded in 1921 virtually guaranteed the game a permanent place. For a while, it approached the popularity level of the National Football League (NFL). Over time, the clubs were joined by adults and children from all classes, a development aided by the formation of a new league, the ASL. Soccer in the United States enjoys increasing popularity today.
During the World Cup, many people all around the world put their regular lives on hold to watch the games. To learn more about soccer, search online or check out your local league.