The story – how two football theologies were invented

When Henry de Winton succumbed to a flu infection on Palm Sunday, April 7, 1895 in Tenby, Welsh – and this happened a lot in the nineteenth century – no one took notice of his death. Only the “Montgomeryshire Express and Radnor Times” reported the death of the native Welshman, perhaps due only to his high position as ordained priest and staff of the Church of England. No one doubted that de Winton, whose real name was Henry Wilkins, would posthumously enter the history of sport as the inventor of the first rules of inter-club football. In 1846, 175 years ago, he and his school friend John Charles Thring, who was also aiming for a job as an Anglican clergyman, organized matches for the first time at the University of Cambridge under uniform rules. At the time, there were already football clubs in Westminster, Eton, Charterhouse, Harrow and Shrewsbury, but each club played by its own rules, so that fellow students from across the country could not play together.

Anyway, the duo caused a lot of excitement on campus, but the kick the players gave at Cambridge Park wasn’t really popular at first. “Rugby was the biggest hurdle,” Thuring recalled years later. In fact, it was not just rugby that competed with emerging football, and not everyone immediately understood what was being played, especially since the Cambridge rules that De Winton and Tring had put in place at first glance did not seem to have anything to do with either or the other. 15-20 players holding the ball and holding it in their hands but weren’t allowed to carry it while running? Even stomping the ball should be forbidden? The critics mocked the laughter and quickly agreed: No matter the weirdness, and above all, as unmanly as soccer came about, it wouldn’t work. Well you must be wrong.

Late victory

John Charles Thring is a co-inventor of the Football Rules General.  - © Wikipedia
John Charles Thring is a co-inventor of the Football Rules General. – © Wikipedia

However, the inventors of modern football had to wait several years before English clubs came up with a uniform set of rules. On October 26, 1863, representatives of clubs from all over England met in the Freemasons ?? A tavern in Covent Garden, London, to discuss the problem that De Winton and Tring tried to solve 17 years ago and create a national federation – The Football Association (FA). Opinions about the permissible rigidity of the game and modern ideas such as the rule for hand game were so different that it took four additional meetings before the new set of rules was published on December 5, 1863. This finally made it possible to host international games, that is, within the United Kingdom; At the same time, the final separation between football and rugby occurred.

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The Cambridge Rules (pictured is an 1856 edition) goes down in history as the first set of rules for football.
The Cambridge Rules (pictured is an 1856 edition) goes down in history as the first set of rules for football.

The differences between the two play styles still create identity as much as they are essential, and De Winton and Thring celebrated a victory, albeit late. Football Association rules based on the Cambridge Rules of 1846 prohibited not only handball (except for fair hunting, which was permitted until 1871), but also all kicking and tripping. By joining the Football Association, the members agreed to play only against clubs that were also members of the Football Association and therefore play according to the same set of rules. This set of rules is evaluated, revised, and completed nearly annually – for example with a corner kick (1866) or a free kick and penalty kick (1891). The number of field players was reduced to eleven in 1870, and a year later handball was generally banned, except for the goalkeeper of course. At the same time, the first regulations for playwear were established (1864), to limit the target height to exactly 2.44 meters (1865), for the size of the ball (1872) and for the condition of the playing field, which should have been the book “Free of Trees and Shrubs” from 1896.

Numerous additions and clarifications have been followed during the 150 years. The spectrum ranges from substitutions, breaking lines and shirt numbers, to goalkeepers and goal recognition. In addition, clear red lines have been gradually introduced into malicious play, for example to differentiate “intentional”, “intentional” and “dangerous” play in order to put an end to memories of rugby. While most of the requirements – with the exception of the gold and silver goals from the turn of the millennium – proved long-standing and still in use unchanged today, there was an almost constant need for discussion regarding two sets of rules: with offside and with the umpires.

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Offside: Offside is older than many people think – and in 1863 it was one of the first rules ever included in football law. At the time, a player would be offside if he was closer to the goal than the ball, and as a result of this rule, the teams had up to eight attackers at that time, especially since the ball could only be pushed forward with dribbling and interference. The passing game only evolved through a change in the offside rule in 1866. Since then, a player has only sneaked out if fewer than three opponents were closer to the goal. The reform succeeded, and thus there were only two modifications in the following years: in 1907 offside was canceled in its half-game and in 1920 for a seaming throw.

The current form of offside rule dates back to a decision made in 1925. Since then, instead of three, only two players are allowed to stand close to the goal. However, the issue of the same amount was not necessary at the time, as it was already being punished as an offside position. It wasn’t until 1990 that it was decided, in favor of the forwards, to let the match continue at the same height. Teams should act more offensively and make the game more attractive. By presenting video evidence, a calibrated font can be used to make brief decisions about whether the ejector is stealthy. In light of this interpretation of the rules, some players and coaches are calling for tolerance for attackers. Either the tip of the foot or, alternatively, 20 to 30 centimeters should not be an offspring. A change in rule is not currently up for discussion.

Referee: The person who has caused arguments between players, coaches and fans (almost) in every match since its introduction in 1874 is the referee. His absolute power depends on two changes identified in the rule book – the possibility of expulsion (introduced in 1877) and the view that only a judge has the power to make decisions (1889). While the former was expanded over time and made more transparent through the warning in the form of a card, the absolute judgment saw a significant reduction in judgment a few years ago – through the so-called video assisted judgment (VAR), which is now an actual understanding of court decisions and can be reviewed. .

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The card was introduced as a visual punishment tool for judgment only at the end of the 1960s and replaced the verbal warning that had prevailed until then. This was also urgently required in international games due to language barriers. For example, when German referee Rudolf Cretlin tried to expel Argentine Antonio Rattin from the field in the 1966 World Cup, he simply refused and claimed he did not understand. With a full head Ratlin taller than Kretlin, he had to be escorted from the field by the police. A long-term solution to the problem was the introduction of yellow and red cards in 1970, whose use – including automatic or yellow and red bans – has proven useful since then.

Will the video assistant referee ever prove himself? The truth is that using technical means to question referees’ decisions is nothing new in football. The invention of the slow-motion movie made it possible, for example, that in the FA Cup Final between Newcastle United and Arsenal in 1932, there was a heated debate about whether or not the ball was in the net from the side of the winger. This put an end to the sheer power of rulers, and video evidence broadcasted by TV stations in the living rooms of the world ruthlessly condemned every small wrong decision – not just the famous Wembley goal from 1966. Today, after a two-year testing phase, the VAR technology was introduced on March 3. 2018 which is initially installed in the bases.

Dynamic evolution

The novelty of VAR has by no means been fully discussed. But this was also the case with many other rule changes. The rules of football don’t evolve linearly, but always dynamically – it is not blogging that is decisive, but its practical application. De Winton and Thring seemed to know this when they first laid the ball at Cambridge Park 175 years ago. And maybe the university will take this memory as an opportunity to give two extraordinary alumni an honorable memento? You don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winner.

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