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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Football's founding father

December 20th, 2013
12:00 PM ET

Many of the graves are completely hidden by undergrowth, ivy snaking its way around the crumbling headstones. An abandoned cemetery in south west London is an unlikely location for a gathering of football insiders early on a cold December morning. They’ve gathered to pay tribute to the man they call the founding father of modern football.

One hundred and fifty years ago Ebenezer Morley and a group of football enthusiasts created the Football Association, the body that would oversee the game in England until this day and would set a precedent for the global professional sport. After a series of rowdy meetings, Morley led his first FA committee to agree on the thirteen “Laws of the Game”: common rules for all teams to abide by.

These laws included many of the rules we recognise today: the definition of a goal, outlawing handball and banning tripping. But others give an idea of the chaos of nineteenth century football: “No player shall wear projecting nails … on the soles or heels of his boots”.

The first match under these new rules was played in London on December 19th 1863 between Morley’s Barnes team and neighbouring Richmond. It was an unspectacular event that ended in a goalless draw, but it set the way for the rise of the game that is now the most played and watched in the world. The original laws still form the basis for football around the globe. The parks, streets and fields where, on FIFA’s last estimate, 265 million people around the world regularly play.

Becky went to find out more about Ebenezer Morley – the man who revolutionized the game of football – and to see the very book in which he first penned the rules of the “beautiful game”.

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