The Chinese competitive game cuju ( literally "kick ball") is the earliest form of football for which there is evidence. Cuju players could use any part of the body apart from hands and the intent was kicking a ball through an opening into a net. During the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), cuju games were standardised and rules were established. Phaininda and episkyros were Greek ball games. Athenaeus, writing in 228 AD, referenced the Roman ball game harpastum. But, phaininda, episkyros and harpastum were played involving hands and violence. They all appear to have resembled rugby football, wrestling and volleyball more than what is recognizable as modern football. Other games included kemari in Japan and chuk-guk in Korea.
The history of football in England dates back to at least the 8 century AD, but the modern rules of association football are based on the mid-19th century efforts to standardise the widely varying forms of football played in the public schools of England. The Cambridge Rules, first drawn up at Cambridge University in 1848, were particularly influential in the development of subsequent codes, including association football. They were not universally adopted. During the 1850s, many clubs unconnected to schools or universities were formed throughout the English-speaking world, to play various forms of football. Some came up with their own distinct codes of rules, most notably the Sheffield Football Club, formed in 1857, which led to the formation of a Sheffield FA in 1867.
These ongoing efforts contributed to the formation of The Football Association (The FA) in 1863 which first met on the morning of 26 October 1863 at the Freemasons' Tavern in Great Queen Street, London. The Freemason's Tavern was the setting for five more meetings between October and December, which eventually produced the first comprehensive set of rules. The eleven clubs, under the charge of Ebenezer Cobb Morley, went on to ratify the original thirteen laws of the game. The Sheffield FA played by its own rules until the 1870s with the FA absorbing some of its rules until there was little difference between the games.
The world's oldest football competition is the FA Cup, which was founded by C.W. Alcock and has been contested by English teams since 1872. The first official international football match also took place in 1872, between Scotland and England in Glasgow, again at the instigation of C.W. Alcock. England is also home to the world's first football league, which was founded in Birmingham in 1888 by Aston Villa director William McGregor. The laws of the game are determined by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). The board was formed in 1886 after a meeting in Manchester of The Football Association of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), was formed in Paris in 1904.
Women may have been playing "football" for as long as the game has existed. The most well-documented early European team was founded by activist Nettie Honeyball in England in 1894. It was named the British Ladies' Football Club. Women's football became popular at the time of WWI, but suffered a blow in 1921 when the FA outlawed the playing of the game on Association members' pitches. In the late 1960s and early 1970s women's association football was organised in the UK, eventually becoming the most prominent team sport for British women. The growth in women's football has seen major competitions being launched at both national and international level mirroring the male competitions. UEFA officially recognised women's football in 1971.