FIFA President Claims Football Began In China

August 17, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. stick /stɪk/ (v.) – to remain true to something
Example: After several meetings, the president still stuck with his initial decision.

2. raise eyebrows /reɪz ˈaɪˌbraʊs/ (idiom) – to do something that shocks or causes people to disagree
Example: The author’s controversial book raised eyebrows in the history community.

3. popularize /ˈpɒp yə ləˌraɪz/ (v.) – to cause something to be popular or well-known
Example: Many historians claim that European countries popularized football.

4. skeptical /ˈskɛp tɪ kəl/ (adj.) – having doubtful thoughts on something’s reliability
Example: Other experts were skeptical about the true motive of FIFA’s president.

5. corruption /kəˈrʌp ʃən/ (n.) – refers to dishonest and illegal acts done to gain something
Example: The football coach was accused of corruption.


Read the text below.
Despite criticisms, FIFA president sticks with his decision to back China’s claim as the birthplace of football or soccer.

Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s president since 1998, announced in 2004 that the world’s most popular sport originated in the Chinese city of Zibo. While the announcement raised eyebrows among football experts, China’s history agrees with Blatter’s claim.

Though football was popularized in England in the 19th century, some experts believe that China’s game called “cuju[soo-joo] is the origin of the famous sport. Cuju’s gameplay is similar to football, except that the former does not allow the ball to touch the ground. To score a point, the player must make the ball pass through a hole above head level.

In Qi [chi] State History Museum located in Zibo, a map certified by FIFA shows the history and development of football. The map displays China as the sport’s cradle. The sport was then introduced to other countries such as Greece, Rome, and France until it was finalized in England. Meanwhile, Zibo Football Museum shows China’s love for football and its good relationship with FIFA and Blatter.

On another note, many historians remain skeptical that the sport came from China, mainly because the standard rules of football originated in England in 1863 before the sport became popular worldwide. Critics also added that there were other ball sports that existed around the same time as cuju started.

According to Ellis Cashmore [KASH-moor], professor at Britain's Staffordshire University, FIFA’s announcement is just an act to make more money out of football. He suggested that China’s huge economy and its citizens’ football obsession would highly benefit FIFA. Cashmore elaborated on the corruption in football in his book, Football’s Dark Side.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What is your reaction toward China’s claim as the source of football? Why is that so?
·         What do you think is the importance of knowing the origin of football? Kindly discuss.

Discussion B

·         What sport originally came from your country? How popular is it nowadays?
·         Do you think your government should support that sport? Why or why not?

August 17, 2014