The 2014 FIFA World Cup is the 20th tournament of the International Men's Football (known as soccer in the US), and it just started in Brazil on June 12th. It's too bad that the most populous country in the world, China, did not qualify in the qualifying competition. Purportedly, China is where the soccer game originated at least 2,200 years ago, and FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football) agrees.

Although England should be credited with organizing the contemporary game in 1863, according to FIFA's website, 'The very earliest form of the game for which there is scientific evidence was an exercise from a military manual dating back to the second and third centuries BC in China.'

The world's first soccer ball was a leather ball filled with feathers and hair, and the game was called 'Tsu' Chu,' which literally means 'kicking ball.' The player was not permitted to aim at his target unimpeded, but had to use his feet, chest, back and shoulders while trying to withstand the attacks of his opponents. Use of the hands was not permitted. China's own historical archives documented the popular game favored by the people of the Qi Kingdom (319 BC - 201 BC), which was located in the present-day Shantung province in northern China. The game continued to be mentioned in the subsequent dynasties in China.

This ancient painting portrays an all-star Chinese soccer team in a soccer field which they shared with dogs and birds. (via

Even Marco Polo mentioned the Chinese game in his travelogue. (Come to think of it, Marco Polo might have been one of the world's earliest travel bloggers.) Ancient Chinese women also enjoyed the game too.

Watch a 400-year old alien hunk fall in love with a beautiful actress in My Love from Another Star.

I'm glad ancient China invented soccer, but I also feel relieved that the modern players aren't wearing the same cumbersome costumes. Today's soccer hunks definitely wear better fitting uniforms.