Cuju (Chinese Football Code) 770 BC – Present


Cuju is an Ancient Chinese code of Football, whose origins are unclear but maybe in Lanzi, the capital of Qi State during the Spring and Autumn Period 770 bc – 476 bc. After attending the Chian World Football Exhibition in 2004, President Sepp S. Blatter of FIFA, the world governing body of Soccer, declared that it was the origins of the present game of soccer.

It appears to have had religious symbolism, the football field represented the earth, and the football represented the celestial bodies. It is estimated that there are approximately 5,000 players of Cuju in Linzi distict. During the Northern Song Dynasty 960-1126 football pitches were laid out and professional Cuju football teams played at the court of the emperor. During the earlier Han dynasty the sport had poetic writing about it and had military significance as well as recreational. ‘Ju’ means a rubber ball covered in leather or an animal bladder stuffed with feathers. Cuju means to ‘Kick a ball with the foot’.

According to the World Sports Encyclopedia, the number of players in team was not fixed, and the numbers varied from 2-10. Teams could only pass to teammates in their own half, and by the time the border was crossed had to kick towards the goal, which was two poles adorned with coloured ribbons. It involves an aspect of keepie-uppies, like in Marn Grook.


Cuju Video [References: 3]



[1] Oxford Reference (2021) Cuju [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 25 March 2021]

[2] Wojciech Liponski (2003) “Cuju” World Sports Encyclopaedia pg. 150.


[3] You Tube (2021) Aug 19, 2018 “Man finds joy playing cuju, the parent of modern soccer” [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 25 March 2021]


Thanks to Caoilfhionn Nic Fhearai

About this document

Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the

Eirball | Irish North American and World Sports Archive

Last Updated: 25 March 2021

(c) Copyright Enda Mulcahy and Eirball 2020

You may quote this document in part provided that proper acknowledgement is given to the authors. All Rights Resereved.

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