A golden coloured football with text that reads 'This ball was used at the Oval, London, in the final for the English Cup, March 24th 1888.
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Collection Highlight: A Piece of Football Association History

12 April 2023

By 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum Curatorial Team

The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum (QOSM)’s Global History of Sport gallery showcases a football from the beginnings of the universally loved game.

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In the late 1800s a sporting revolution took place in Europe and North America. Games were transformed from customary traditions into highly commercialised contests which were watched and played by millions of people.

Thanks to the use of sport as an educational tool, the growth of newspapers, and rising standards of living, by 1900 football, baseball, cricket and many other sports had become ‘passions of the people’, and would soon be played in almost every country around the world.

Organised in cups, leagues and international tournaments, sport in the 20th century would become one of the most important cultural phenomena on the planet.

A golden coloured football with red leather sections and intricate blue designs.

The 1888 FA Cup final match ball features intricate designs in various colours, decorating the entire exterior. Photo: Courtesy of 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum ©2023

There have been ball games in many cultures throughout history. The earliest known game resembling football is the ancient Chinese game Cuju, literally meaning ‘kick the ball’, and dating back to 200 BCE.

Fast forward to the 1800s and football had transformed more closely into the game we all know and love. The modern game of association football began in England in 1863, when the laws familiar to us today were first established.

A separate rugby football game was set up in 1871, and a Rugby League in 1895.

The first association football competition was the Football Association Challenge Cup, more commonly known as the FA Cup, which started in 1871. The women’s FA Cup was founded almost 100 years later, in 1970.

This football, on display at QOSM’s Global History of Sport gallery, was used in the 1888 FA Cup final between West Bromwich Albion – fondly known to fans as ‘The Baggies’ – and Preston North End, with the former taking the cup 2–1.

Plan your visit today to see the 1888 FA Cup final match ball and other items from sports history at QOSM’s Global History of Sport gallery.