By Michael Kachitsa
Football in Asia is growing and it is the most popular sport in many of the Asian countries like Iran.
According to FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association), the earliest form of football (soccer) was played in China and it was dated back to centuries. The game was called cuju and it was played as the same way as soccer- without using hands or arms and a player had to kick the ball through two goal posts to score a goal where the ball was made of leather.
Football in Asia is enormously diversified and it banks on various surroundings and periods. During the 21st century, football is emerging as a prominent sport in the Asian countries, with Qatar hosting the 2022 FIFA world cup, India introducing the Super League in 2013 and Qatar and United Arab Emirates’ huge investment in clubs overseas.
Only one Asian team (South Korea) has made it through the quarterfinals of the FIFA World cup since the tournament expanded to 32 teams in 1998 while other Asian teams like Saudi Arabia and North Korea have suffered huge defeats in the World cup in 2002 and 2010 respectively.
Asia has the largest fan following of soccer than any other continent which is approximately 800 million and it also exhibits 32 percent of the viewership for the English Premier League.
The former President of FIFA, for the year 1998-2005, Sepp Blatter asserted his confidence that the future of football must lie in Asia because half of the world’s population is in Asia. AFC’s (Asia Football Confederation) official slogan is ‘The Future is Asia’ and the AFC aims to develop football in Asia even more in the coming years.