Football is a sport that has millions of fans around the world, but how much do you really know about it? Here are some amazing facts that will surprise you and make you appreciate the game even more.
Fact 1: Goalkeepers were not always allowed to use their hands.
In the early days of football, there was no distinction between the goalkeeper and the other players. Anyone could use their hands to stop the ball, as long as they were inside their own penalty area. This rule changed in 1912, when the International Football Association Board (IFAB) decided that only the goalkeeper could handle the ball in their area, and only if they were wearing a different colored shirt from their teammates.
Fact 2: The tallest goalkeeper was 8 feet tall.
The Guinness World Records recognizes the late Kristof Van Hout as the tallest professional football goalkeeper ever. The Belgian player, who died in 2020, measured 8 feet (2.44 meters) in height. He played for several clubs in Belgium, the Netherlands, and India, and was nicknamed “The Giant” by his fans.
Fact 3: The first football worldcup did not have a final.
The first FIFA World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930, and featured 13 teams from four continents. The tournament was organized in two stages: a group stage and a knockout stage. However, there was no official final match, as the winner was decided by the standings of the four teams that reached the knockout stage. Uruguay, Argentina, the United States, and Yugoslavia played each other once, and Uruguay emerged as the champion with three wins and no losses.
Fact 4: The fastest goal in history took only 1.8 seconds.
The record for the fastest goal ever scored in a competitive football match belongs to Nawaf Al-Abed, a Saudi Arabian player who netted the ball in just 1.8 seconds after the kickoff. The incredible feat happened in a Saudi Professional League match between Al-Hilal and Al-Shoalah in 2009. Al-Abed intercepted a pass from the opposition and fired a long-range shot that caught the goalkeeper off guard.
Fact 5: The record for the most goals scored in a single match is 149.
The highest scoring football match in history took place in Madagascar in 2002, when AS Adema beat SO l’Emyrne 149-0. However, this was not a fair contest, as SO l’Emyrne deliberately scored own goals to protest against a refereeing decision in their previous game. The match was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the most one-sided game ever.
Fact 6: The first game broadcasted on television was a football match.
The first live television broadcast of a football match occurred in 1937, when the BBC aired a friendly game between Arsenal and Arsenal Reserves at Highbury Stadium in London. The match was watched by an estimated 10,000 viewers, who had to pay a license fee of two shillings and sixpence to access the service. The broadcast lasted for only 15 minutes, as the BBC had to switch to the horse racing at Kempton Park.
Fact 7: The fastest red card was given after just 2 seconds.
The quickest dismissal in a football match happened in 2000, when Lee Todd, a player for Cross Farm Park Celtic in England, was sent off after just 2 seconds of play. The reason for his expulsion was that he swore loudly when the referee blew the whistle to start the game, which the official heard and deemed as offensive language. Todd later claimed that he was startled by the loud noise and did not mean to insult the referee.
Fact 8: Football is the most watched sport in the world.
According to a 2018 report by Nielsen, football is the most popular sport in the world, with an estimated 3.5 billion fans. The report also found that the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia was the most watched sporting event in history, with a cumulative audience of 3.6 billion viewers across all platforms. The final match between France and Croatia alone attracted 1.1 billion viewers, making it the most watched single game ever.
Fact 9: The shortest football player was 3 feet 7 inches tall.
The smallest professional football player ever was Ramesh Sartape, an Indian player who stood at 3 feet 7 inches (1.09 meters) tall. He played as a striker for Mumbai United in the Indian National Football League in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was known for his speed, agility, and dribbling skills, and scored several goals for his team.
Fact 10: The highest scoring draw in history was 11-11.
The most goals scored in a draw was 22, when Deportivo La Coruña and Racing Santander played out a 11-11 stalemate in a Spanish Second Division match in 1943. The match was a thriller, with both teams scoring at will and exchanging the lead several times. The final scoreline was 4-4 at half-time, 9-9 at 80 minutes, and 11-11 at the final whistle.