Game's birthplace still flourishing

Football has spread irresistibly since the English Football Association was founded in 1863.

Game's birthplace still flourishing
Game's birthplace still flourishing ©Getty Images


The English Football Association (FA) was founded in 1863 when the chief clubs and schools playing their own versions of football met to form an association for the purpose of framing a set of official rules under which all could play the game. Uniformity was the aim. The FA Cup, international football, professionalism and league competition followed. From there, football has spread irresistibly all over the world.

The FA's influence increased significantly after a Challenge Cup was established in 1871. Within a decade, the original membership of 12 clubs had increased to 128. Wanderers, a team set up by ex-public school and university players, won the first FA Cup final 1-0 against Royal Engineers at Kennington Oval in London in 1872. From 1923 to 2000 the match was played at Wembley before moving to Cardiff for six years while the new Wembley was being built. The FA Cup is one of England's great sporting institutions.

The first international games were those played between England and Scotland in the 1870s. A crowd of 4,000 watched the first official international in Glasgow in 1872. It was not until 1908, when an England side toured central Europe, that teams from outside Britain were encountered.

The FA was represented at a FIFA meeting for the first time in 1906, but withdrew in 1920 because it refused to be associated with certain countries, before rejoining in 1924. However, it dropped out again four years later in a dispute over FIFA's definition of amateurism.

The FA renewed its FIFA ties in 1946, and an England team competed in its maiden FIFA World Cup in Brazil in 1950. Bobby Charlton played a crucial role in England's re-emergence as a world football power in the 1960s, alongside team-mates of the calibre of Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore and Martin Peters. Ably managed by Alf Ramsey, England won the World Cup in 1966. Since that great day at Wembley, there have been two appearances in UEFA European Championship semi-finals (1968 in Italy, and 1996 on home soil), and one in a World Cup semi-final (1990 in Italy).

Down the years, England has produced further fine players of the quality of Sir Stanley Matthews, Sir Tom Finney, Duncan Edwards, Gary Lineker, Paul Gascoigne, Peter Shilton, Glenn Hoddle and Bryan Robson, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney.

Club sides have also performed with great distinction in European competition, with the following winners:
European Champion Clubs' Cup: Liverpool FC (five), Manchester United FC (three), Nottingham Forest FC (two), Aston Villa FC, Chelsea FC.
UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League: Liverpool (three), Tottenham (two), Ipswich Town FC, Chelsea and Manchester United.
European Cup Winners' Cup: Tottenham Hotspur FC, West Ham United FC, Manchester City FC, Chelsea (twice), Everton FC, Manchester United and Arsenal FC.
UEFA Women's Cup/UEFA Women's Champions League: Arsenal LFC

Initially, the FA maintained a strictly amateur outlook, and its authority remained in the balance until it decided to legalise professionalism in 1885. The association has been a limited company since 1903. It has consolidated its reputation as the world's senior football administration, adding greatly to its activities over the decades.


Greg Clarke

Greg Clarke
Greg Clarke©FA

Nationality: English
Date of birth: 27 October 1957
Association president since: 2016

• Greg Clarke became the independent chairman of The Football Association in August 2016.

• Clarke has a wealth of football experience, having spent six years as chairman of the English Football League, prior to which he was on the board and then chairman of Leicester City FC, and has also enjoyed a distinguished business career.

• Upon his appointment, he said: “This is a very important moment for English football and I hope to play my part in building on the progress seen in many key areas in recent times. I know all about the challenges we face and I am confident we are on a sound footing. I have a strong sense of purpose about what needs to happen next. Whether supporting the England teams or promoting the grassroots game, I know there are great people at The FA who are working diligently and professionally.”

General secretary

Mark Bullingham

Mark Bullingham
Mark Bullingham©FA

 Nationality: British
Date of birth: 2 November 1974
CEO since: 2019

• Mark Bullingham joined the English Football Association in August 2016 as commercial and marketing director to lead the commercial, marketing and digital functions within the association. In December 2018, he became chief commercial and football development officer, with the added responsibility of leading the Football Participation and Development department.

• He was previously the CEO EMEA for Fuse Sports & Entertainment, a marketing agency. Before joining Fuse in 2011, he was director of marketing for the America’s Cup Event Authority in San Francisco.

• He is an FA Level 1 qualified coach and has managed girls’ and boys’ teams at grassroots level.