The Premier League and its 25th Birthday

By James Martinez

As an American writing about football (I have only recently become familiar with using this term for the sport) I don’t know where to begin on the topic. Though my country is not holistically interested in the sport, it seems every other country in the world is. Football is the world’s most popular past time, a past time which contains the most vivacious fan base of any other existing athletic program.

After some light research, I have discovered football is one of the oldest organized sports in the world. The origins of football can be traced back roughly 2,000 years, among other places, to China, Greece and Rome. Football’s origins can also be traced back to Ancient Central America in Ancient Mesoamerican culture. In Ancient Central America, the game was similar to modern day football (the modern day equivalent in Central America is called Ulama and is still popular in the region today). The two main differences being players passed the ball using only their hips, and in some instances, like in ancient Veracruz and Mayan cultures for example, the losing team would be killed (usually by decapitation) as human sacrifices to appease their Mesoamerican Deities.

England was the first nation to establish concrete rules and regulations for the sport, for example penalty kicks were introduced to the game in 1913 by the British. This testament of devotion to football may explain why the United Kingdom as a nation is so passionate about the sport. August 15th of 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Premier League in the United Kingdom. Before February 20th, 1992 the Premier League was known as Division One. Since its transition into becoming the Premier League, football in the United Kingdom has gained more financial support and its fan base has grown exponentially since the transition in the early nineties.

Over the last 25 years, the Premier League has produced some of the best teams football has ever known, such as Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. As well as some of the greatest players the sport has ever seen like David Beckham, Harry Kane, and Sergio Aguero to name a few. An American writing about the 25th Anniversary of the Premier League’s beginning could be distasteful to some as American Actor Robert Downey Jr. playing the iconic British character Sherlock Holmes in recent films. But the significance of this anniversary is not lost on me.

Football has expanded rapidly in fans and value since its founding in 1992, and the Premier League is the most popular league in the world. An estimated 1.2 billion people globally follow the clubs of the Premier League, with Manchester United having the strongest global support with 95 million fans worldwide. That number is astounding. 1.2 billion people follow the Premiere League. That is more than 1/7 of the world’s population. This fan base is unmatched with not just any other sport, but with any other institution excluding religion. And from my experience so far in the United Kingdom, people here treat football as its own quasi-religion. Safe to say the future looks promising for football in the United Kingdom.