Soccer, a game in which players score a point by getting a ball into the other team's goal, is considered the world's most popular sport.

Pre-Reading Questions

  1. Do you play or have you ever played soccer?
  2. Do you know how many players are on a soccer team?
  3. Do you know where soccer originated?
  4. Do you know what a soccer ball is made of?
  5. What is the most popular sport in your country?

Vocabulary Preview

  • score: make a point in a game
  • goal: place where the ball is kicked to make a point
  • ancient: from long ago
  • train: teach
  • coconut: a large, hard shelled fruit filled with a milky liquid
  • bladder: a bag of skin in which urine collects in the body
  • stuffed: filled
  • rag: a piece of cloth
  • entire: whole
  • goalkeeper: person who tries to stop the ball from entering the goal
  • authorities: the people who are in control or have the power
  • ban: not allow; order something not to be done
  • common: average, ordinary
  • refuse: say no to a request
  • create: make something new
  • field: area of land
  • settlers: people who come to live in a new country
  • popular: well-liked
  • professional:  doing something for money as a job
  • violent: showing great force

Practice these new words here: Vocabulary: Soccer


  1. Soccer is a game in which players score a point by getting a ball into the other team’s goal. Each team has 11 players, including a goalkeeper. In many parts of the world, soccer is called football.
  2. Games that involved kicking a ball have been played for over 3,000 years. Ancient Chinese, Greek, and Roman soldiers played them to train for war. Religious ceremonies and wedding celebrations often included such a game.
  3. Many different types of balls were used. Pacific Islanders kicked coconuts, oranges, or pig’s bladders. The ancient Incas and Mayans developed a game that used a rubber ball. Other peoples played with balls made from animal skins, stuffed with hair, grass, or rags.
  4. The modern game of soccer began in Britain. In the Middle Ages, entire villages would play against each other. Because there were no rules, games were very violent and might go all day long. Authorities tried to ban the game, but the common people loved it and refused to stop playing.
  5. To make the game less violent, upper-class English schools created rules for it in the 1800s. In 1863, the London Football Association was formed and set rules for its member clubs to play by. In 1869, it added the rule that players could not touch the ball with their hands. They could use only their feet or their head to move the ball around the playing field to score a goal. This rule still applies today.
  6. Up until the late 1800s, the game had been called football, but it is thought that students named it “soccer” as an abbreviated form of Association. (Today, depending on the country, the game is called either soccer or football.) School clubs were formed to play against each other.
  7. Over the years, British sailors and settlers introduced the game to Europe, South and North America, and India. In 1908, soccer became an Olympic sport.
  8. Soccer is now the world’s most popular game. It is watched by millions and is played by everyone from professional players to young children.

Post Reading Questions

  1. Why did ancient Roman soldiers play ball games?
  2. What kinds of balls have people used over the years?
  3. Why did the British authorities in the Middle Ages try to ban the ball game?
  4. How did the modern game of soccer develop?
  5. Why was the year 1863 important in the development of soccer?
  6. What rule was added in 1869?
  7. Who introduced the game of soccer to North and South America?
  8. Why do you think soccer is the most popular sport in the world?
  9. Many soccer fans around the world become very violent during tournaments. Why do you think this happens? What can the government do to prevent this?
  10. What can children learn from playing team sports?
  11. Have you ever played a team sport? If so, what sport was it? How long did you play? What skills did you gain from your experience?

Additional Resources