BEIJING: FIFA chief Sepp Blatter has acknowledged that football has its roots in China, declaring it the birthplace of the glorious game.
At a football expo in Beijing, where he is attending the Asian Cup Finals, Blatter said FIFA concurs with the China Football Association (CFA) that the game originated in Zibo, in eastern Shandong province, the China Daily reported.
Experts on sports history and archaeology also attended the expo, outlining the origins of the game 2,300 years ago when Zibo was part of the ancient Qi kingdom.
Contemporary football began in 1863 in England, when rugby football and association football branched off on their different courses and the world’s first football association was founded – The Football Association in England.
“It is so great to hear president Blatter make the announcement,” said CFA vice president Zhang Jilong.
“Football is the world’s No.1 sport so I am honoured that China is being recognised for inventing and developing ancient football.”
Although many countries claim to have invented football, historians have often pointed to the game of cuju in China as the true origin, which involved kicking a ball using feet to score points.
“Having been recognised by FIFA and the CFA, we have to take on the responsibility and cling to the honour. We should also take greater efforts to make a contribution to football development,” Zhang added.
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) secretary general Datuk Peter Velappan offered his congratulations to China.
“Thank you China as the birthplace of football,” he said.
“Football started in China and the sport’s future belongs to Asia. China has so much potential to develop football. I hope the Asian Cup will help highlight the truth that China has the most football potential in the world.”
According to the report, Blatter was to have announced that China was the home of football at the Women’s World Cup in China last year, but the tournament was moved to the United States because of the SARS disease.
The Asian Cup kicks off in Beijing today with China playing Bahrain in the opening match. – AFP
We're sorry, this article is unavailable at the moment. If you wish to read this article, kindly contact our Customer Service team at 1-300-88-7827. Thank you for your patience - we're bringing you a new and improved experience soon!