Forerunners of football Known as "the beautiful game", football is by far the most popular sport in the world. Over 250 million people play it and many, many more watch it live in the stadiums or on TV. But where and when did people first play the game? There are many possible answers. One problem for historians to decide upon is: Which game played with a ball using feet can actually be called the forerunner of football? Some historians believe football originates from the ancient ball games played in Egypt around 1800 B.C., which were part of religious ceremonies. However, there is no clear evidence that anyone actually kicked the ball. In China, historical records reveal that a ball game by the name of cuju was played as early as the Warring States Period, which bears some resemblance to the modern game of football.