Football Codes and Leagues by Start Year 1848-2020

Commonwealth of Nations Football Codes (1848-1909)

Football Code and year of FormationNotes
1400s Calcio Fiorentino (1)Earliest Football Code – Renaissance Florence
1848 Rugby Union (2)First English Codified Football
1858 Australian Football (3)First Codified Football outside Europe
1862 Soccer (4)Football Association
1870s Rugby League (5)Northern Rugby Clubs broke away from Rugby Union to form Professioonal League
1884 Gaelic Football (6)Gaelic Athletic Association formed in Ireland
1893 Pro Football (*)American Pro Football started in Western Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh Area)
1909 Canadian Football (7)Canadian Rugby Union (now Canadian Football League) played first Grey Cup
Commonwealth of Nations Football Codes

(*) Note: Early version of American Football. Modern versions include NCAA Football (University 1911 – Codified by Theodore Roosevelt) and National Football League (First Professional American Football League to succeed). There were also early versions of Football in Ancient Greece & Rome (e.g. Harpastum) and East Asia and Australia (e.g. Marn Grook (Australia), Kemari (Japan) and Chuo (China) which were children’s games or court games of keepie-uppies. early versions of Football in Medieval Britain with no rules or limits on the number of players e.g. Cumbrian Uppies & Downies, Alnwick Shaking the Hales, Orkney Ba’ Game among others and later English Public School Football Games with assymetrical fields and numbers per team and obscure rules e.g. Eton Fives, however, none of these was ever professional.

American Football Leagues and Soccer Continental Competitions (1911-1974)

American Football LeaguesAFL NotesSoccer ContinentsNotes
1911 University Football (8)NCAA founded1916 South American Championship (9)CONMEBOL
1920 National Football (10)NFL founded1927 International Championship (11)Europe
1930s American Football (13)AFL Rivals to NFL1930 FIFA World Cup (12)First Edition
1946 All-American Football (15)AAFC Rival to NFL1941 CCCF Championship (14)Central America
1950s American Association (17)AFA Rival to NFL NY-NJ Metro Area1951 Asian Games (16)
1960s Continental Football (19)CoFL Rival to NFL1957 African Cup of Nations (18)Became Proper Competition following Independence in 1960
1974 World Football (21)WFL Rival to NFL1973 Oceania (20)Pacific Island Nations and Australia.
American Football Codes and Soccer Continental Competitions (1911-1974)

World Indoor X Football and Pro Rugby Leagues

World American FootballArena Indoor FootballX (Spring) American FootballPro Rugby Leagues
1979 Europe (22)1986 Arena Football AFL (24)1983 United States USFL (23)1987 Premiership England (25)
1991 North Atlantic WLAF (26)1999 Indoor Foootball IFL (30)1993 CFL USA (27)1996 Super Rugby SANZAR (28)
1998 Germany NFLEL (29)2004 Lingerie Football LFL (33)2001 XFL (31)2001 Celtic League / Pro 14 (32)
2016 Mexico LFA (36)2016 American 7s A7FL (35)2014 Spring Football TSL (34)2017 Top 14 France (37)
2021 Japan X-League (40)2021 Fan-Controlled FCF (39) 2019 Alliance AAF (38)???
World Indoor X Football Leagues and Pro Rugby


For References on each of the Leagues as well as much more information please see the following pages:


American Football Codes

[1] NFL / Kevin Patra (2020) Washington retiring nickname, logo; new nickname TBD [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 14 July 2020]

Canadian Football Leagues:

National Football League:

American Football League Era 1920-1950:

Mexican American Football Leagues:

Japan American Football:

United States Football Leagues Era 1960-1985: /

Arena and Indoor Football Leagues:

European american Football:

Women’s American Football (including Legends Leagues):

XFL Era Football Leagues:

World American Football Leagues:

World Football Leagues

English Premier League
Australian Football League
Gaelic Athletic Association Football
International Rules Football
Super Rugby (Rugby Union)
National Rugby League
Major Arena Soccer League
Copa Libertadores Futsal
Calcio Fiorentino
Lelo Burti (Georgia)
World Football Codes


Guy Oliver (1992) “The Guinness Record of World Soccer” Guinness Publishing, London 1992


Thanks to Prof. Gill and Prof. Corvin.

About this document

Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the

Eirball | Irish, North American & World Sports Archive

Last Updated: 9 July 2021

(c) Copyright Enda Mulcahy and Eirball 2021

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

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