Over the past decade, international soccer fans have indulged in eight Copa America tournaments. The typically quadrennial event was scheduled for a bonus 100th-anniversary edition in 2016. The event resumed a regular schedule in 2019, followed by another early tournament in 2020 to shift the event back to even years and sync it with the European championship. Ultimately the games were postponed until 2021, leaving only three years until the next series of matches.
As anticipation grows for the 2024 Copa America in Ecuador, soccer lovers are looking forward to the next tournament. While the date approaches, you can wrap up in a custom scarf and beanie and enjoy these 25 fascinating facts about soccer.
In no particular order, here are the soccer facts that we found most interesting:
Here are some of the most significant dates in soccer history:
- Players started wearing shin guards in 1874 when English sportsman Sam Weller Widdowson first invented them from a pair of cut-up cricket pads.
- FIFA was established on May 21, 1904. With 209 members, they are one of the most prestigious sports organizations. Their goal is to unite the national soccer associations around the world.
- Soccer was introduced in 1900 as the first team sport included in the Olympics.
- The very first American Professional Soccer League (APSL) was founded in 1921.
- The first Women’s World Cup was in 1991. The final match was between the U.S. and the Netherlands. The U.S. Women’s National Team won the game 2-0 and earned the championship title.
Here are some shocking record scores:
- The highest score ever made in a soccer game was 149-0, in 2002 at the last match of the Indian Ocean island’s league championship. Stade Olympique l’Emyrne made all 149 shots into their own goal as part of a protest.
- Brazil holds the record for the most world cup wins. They won five tournaments in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. Italy and Germany are close behind with four wins each.
You can put your vocabulary skills to the test with these fun soccer facts:
- The word “soccer” originated as a slang term for the word “association.”
- The term “soccer” was coined in the late 1800s by the British.
Clothing and Equipment
Here are some interesting facts about soccer uniforms and equipment:
- The first soccer nets were wicker baskets.
- A traditional soccer ball has 32 panels – 12 are five-sided, and 20 are six-sided.
- The official term for a soccer player’s uniform is called a kit. In Britain, cleats are called studs.
- Soccer balls are not a perfect sphere. They are slightly oval-shaped, but the checkerboard pattern creates an illusion. Soccer balls were originally brown leather until the white and black soccer ball was first debuted in 1970.
- The original prize for winning the World Cup, the Jules Rimet trophy, was stolen in 1966. It was recovered seven days later by a search dog named Pickles. It was stolen for the second time in 1983 and was never found again.
Here are some statistical facts about soccer:
- Ankle sprains are the most common injury for male soccer players. They account for 17% of all injuries. The risk of being injured is four times higher during games compared to practices.
- In the 840 Copa America games played so far, an average of 3.16 goals has been scored in each.
- On average, soccer players run as far as 9.5 miles in a single match. Soccer players run much farther than tennis, baseball, basketball and NFL football players do in a typical game.
You might have heard of some of these famous soccer players:
- After being signed by a Dutch club, an 18-month-old baby became the youngest professional soccer player ever in 2011. VVV-Venlo recruited Baerke van der Meij after his father shared a video of the toddler kicking three goals into his toy box. Soccer could be in the little boy’s genes since his grandfather has played for the same Dutch club.
- Olivia Moultrie became the youngest goal-scorer in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in 2021 at 15 years old. This record-breaking goal was made possible after winning a lawsuit against the NWSL for their rule prohibiting players under 18 just a few weeks earlier.
- In 2021, the two highest-paid soccer players, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, made a combined $235 million in one season.
Did you watch either of these games? They’re two of the most famous games in soccer history:
- Over 1.5 million people tuned in to watch the 2015 Copa America final between Chile and Argentina.
- The 2015 Women’s World Cup Final between the United States and Japan was the most-watched soccer game in U.S. TV history.
Here are some soccer facts from around the world:
- The city of Lusail, host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Final game, doesn’t exist yet. The city is being built in Qatar by over 20,000 workers at an estimated $45 billion budget. The city will feature an 86,000-seat soccer stadium complete with a moat around the outside.
- Mexico and Jamaica didn’t have an age restriction on the players they could use in the 2015 Copa tournament.
- The weather in Greenland is unsuitable for turf soccer fields. FIFA and DBU funded the countries first artificial pitch soccer field in 2009. They have yet to join FIFA since they are technically not an independent nation.
Have another fact to share? Let us know in the comments below!