When Was the First Soccer Game? (Men’s, Women’s, and International)

You probably already know that soccer has been around for a long time. But did you know when the first game was played? In this article, I’m going to share with you all the details about the first-ever soccer game.

The first soccer game was played in London, England, on December 19, 1863. The game took place between Barnes Football Club and Richmond Football Club and ended in a 0-0 draw.

This game was the first step in the development of the modern game of soccer that we know today. From that moment, there have been multiple subsequent firsts in soccer.

In this article, we’ll look at:

  • Everything known about the first game
  • When the first international soccer game took place
  • and when the first women’s soccer game happened.
the first soccer game featured image

The First Official Soccer Game

In England, at the beginning of 1863, various forms of soccer were played around the country, but there was no universally agreed set of rules.

In one part of the country, some teams played to one set of rules. In another part of the country, teams would play according to a very different set of rules.

If teams from different parts of the country ever tried to play against each other, it was often a mess and very confusing.

In an attempt to clarify the rules and unify the game of soccer, a national governing body consisting of representatives from teams around the country was formed in October 1863.

Over the course of 3 months, this group, known as the Football Association, agreed upon a uniform set of rules that every team playing the game of soccer could follow.

This was the moment the sport of soccer, as we now know it, was created!

Discover far more detail about the invention of soccer in my article – The Invention of Soccer: A Detailed History.

Once the teams had agreed upon the rules, all that was left was to play the first game and launch the sport into the world!

The first opportunity came a few days later, on December 19, 1863.

Ebenezer Morley, the man, often referred to as the “Father of the Football Association“, was heavily involved with setting up the group that codified these new Laws of the Game of soccer.

At that time, he was also the captain of the soccer team Barnes FC.

In his position as captain and as secretary of the Football Association, he decided to organize a game between Barnes FC and the local team Richmond FC.

This game would be the first played according to the new rules.

The first soccer game was played on Barnes common at Mortlake, London. This game between Barnes FC and Richmond FC finished as a 0-0 draw.

Despite the game ending as a 0-0 draw, the implementation of the new rules was successful.

This way of playing soccer quickly became the standardized rules that were followed throughout the country and eventually spread throughout the world.

For an often surprising look at how soccer spread around the world from the first game up until the modern-day, check out my article – The History of Soccer: From Origin to Modern-day.

First International Soccer Game

Due to the entertaining yet straightforward nature of soccer, it quickly became popular across the world.

Teams from many countries started to enjoy the game, and eventually, there came a desire for soccer teams to compete at an international level.

One national team pitted against another to see which nation is the best!

The first international soccer game was played on November 30, 1872. England played Scotland in Glasgow, Scotland, and the game ended as a 0-0 draw.

In the year or so leading up to this game, there had been a few unofficial games played between English players and Scottish players, but FIFA recognizes this game in November 1872 as soccer’s first-ever international.

4,000 spectators gathered to watch this game at the Hamilton Crescent, the West of Scotland Cricket Club’s ground, in Partick, Glasgow.

Over the following decades, the crowd numbers at international games would increase as this format of the game became more and more popular.

First Women’s Soccer Game

First womens soccer game

After many years of soccer being played predominantly by men, women’s soccer began to gain a strong following in the late 1800s.

The first women’s soccer game was played on March 23, 1895, at Crouch End Athletic Ground, London, England. At this game, a crowd of more than 10,000 spectators watched North beat South 7-1.

The public received the game exceptionally well, and many papers reported it was a highly entertaining game.

Similar to the lead-up to the first men’s soccer game, women had played other non-official soccer games before the first official game in 1895.

But this game was officially sanctioned by the governing body at the time and became a significant stepping stone in the journey and development of women’s soccer around the world.

Although women first played in the late 1800s, it took until 1920 for an international women’s soccer game to take place.

The first women’s international soccer game was played in 1920. Dick Kerr’s Ladies played a French XI and won the game 2-0. 25,000 people attended the game.

Dick Kerr’s Ladies were an English team based in the city of Preston. In 1920 they faced a French team that traveled to England on tour and took on Dick Kerr’s Ladies, who were the strongest women’s team of the day.

Check out my article- Is Soccer an Olympic Sport? – to find out when women’s soccer first competed in the Olympics.

Ben Clayfield

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Find out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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