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The History of East Asian Football



July 27, 2010


About FIFA, the first football association established in London, England, set the relatively unitized rules of the competitions, which marking the Birth of Modern Football Games and taking its first step to the future.
In fact, there was a competitive sport in the history which was allowed to just use foot to kick without hands'help.
Historically, that’s the prototype of the modern football.
The most characteristic example was “Cuju” from China of Eastern Asia.
In china, the earliest origin of Cuju could be traced back to 300 B.C. At that time, it was not considered as a sports activity, but applied as a part of the military training. After that, “Cuju” was gradually spreading to Korean Peninsula and Japan.

Then, what was the earliest association among the 10 countries and regions that has already joined EAFF? It was not the countries like Korea Rep. and Japan which have been in the leading position of the Asian countries on the World Cup performances, but Hong Kong-China. They established the first football association in 1914. There was used to be the AFC secretariat in Hong Kong-China, and the first professional league in Asia was established in 1968. Not only there were world-class performances, but also it improved the whole level of Asian football. The establishing sequence of the associations is listed as follows:

The earliest countries which showed up on the international stage were China PR and Japan which participated in the Olympics. China PR was in the1936 Berlin Olympic Games, but beaten by England. Japan marked their first presentence in the1936 Berlin Olympic Games; beat Sweden by the score of 3-2, which shocked the world.

The first country came back to the international sports stage after the World WarⅡ was Japan. The first Asian Games in 1951, Japan participated and eventually won the bronze medal without China PR, Korea Rep. and DPR Korea’s participation.

The two countries delayed to participate in the Olympic Games, but Korea Rep. first participated the 1948 London Olympic Games. Korea Rep. was beaten by the champion of the tournament, Sweden in quarter finals, but beat Mexico in the group stage. China PR also participated in the Game, but it was eliminated by the fail to Turkey.

After that, China PR, Japan, Korea Rep. gradually became the leading countries in EAFF. However in the 1950s Chinese Taipei entered into their golden ages. They hadn’t participate any the big world wide tournament, but beat Korea Rep. 5-2 in the 1954 Asian Games final, beat Korea Rep. again in the1958 Asian Games, won two successive championships in Asian Games. After that, the male football of Chinese Taipei entered to the stagnation periods, however the female football team qualified for the FIFA Womens‘ World Cup in 1991, advanced to the 1999 Women’s AFC cup, presented the world class level.

Then, DPR Korea had gradually grown up. They beat the world champion Italy on group stage in the FIFA World Cup England 1966. In the 1/8 finals, competed with Portugal leading by the legendary star “panther” Eusebio , in the 3 goals leading situation, eventually lost 3-5, they advanced to the quarter finals in the Holy Land of Football England. They were honored as “Red Lightning”, because of their red jersey.

After 2 years, the whole world’s eyes turned to Japan. Japan, which had Kamamoto Kunishige, eventually won the bronze medal in the Mexico Olympic Games. However, they were eliminated in the 1970 World Cup qualifier. In the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, DPR Korea got the qualification. Later on the New Leader of the East Asia turned to be Korea. They participated in the FIFA World cup Mexico 1986 after 32 years. Hereafter, they continuously got the qualifications for 4 World Cups included the FIFA World Cup Italy 1990, the FIFA World Cup USA 1994 and the FIFA World Cup France 1998, they participated the FIFA World Cup Korea/Jpan 2002 as the host.

Besides the National team, another important part is the professional league. Korea Rep. started their own professional league in 1983 after Hong Kong-China’s first profession league in Asia. Japan and China PR also established their own professional league in 1993 and 1994, which had an enormous impact on the development of East Asian football. The representation of accelerating the professionalism was Japan. In the 1993 FIFA World Cup qualifier, Japan, which could get the qualification just by a draw with the opponent in the last match, was eliminated by the “Doha Tragedy” in Doha. Eventually they got the qualification for the FIFA World Cup France 1998 for the first time, then, they jointly hosted the 2002 World Cup with Korea Rep. Except the host teams Korea Rep. and Japan, China PR had also broken out of the encirclement, and participated the FIFA World Cup for the first time. Korea Rep. advanced to the semi finals in the FIFA World Cup in Korea Rep. and Japan, Japan advanced to the last 16, and made the status of the East Asian foot ball advance tremendously. Then, in the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010, DPR Korea had also entered to the FIFA World Cup since 1966, Korea Rep. which took part in their 7th consecutive World Cup, and Japan which took part in their 4th consecutive World Cup advanced to the last 16 with their outstanding performance.

The voice of setting up the East Asian Football Federation (EAFF) was increasing, when the East Asia hosted the World Cup for the first time on May 2002. It was established in order to boost the development of the East Asian football, deepen the communication between the regions, and promote regional peace. It initially consisted of 8 member states or regions included China PR, Chinese Taipei, Guam, Hong Kong-China, Japan, Korea Rep., Macau-China, and Mongolia, in the same year DPR Korea joined EAFF later. Then Northern Mariana Islands joined in 2008, became the 10th member state. Among these member states there is Mongolia which plays football in both the temperatures above and under 40 degree, there is also Guam which is in summer over the whole year; the environment of EAFF presents the cultural diversity football.

The first East Asian Football Championship which was organized by EAFF was hold in 2003 in Japan. Hereafter, the second tournament was hold in Korea Rep. in 2005, the third tournament was hold in China PR in 2008, the forth tournament was hold in Japan in 2010. The fifth one is going to be hold in 2013. Besides, along with the 2005’s tournament, the EAFF Women’s cup was hold in the same time. The Women’s cup has also begun to host the qualifying match since 2008, this way, the development of the men and the women football in East Asia has been boosted in the same time, and the cultural exchange has also been enhanced.

Among them, the member who has gained valuable experience and has been grown up notably is Guam! The local association had been experienced the continued period of crises. But in the East Asian Football Championship 2010 Preliminary Competition on March 2009, they beat Mongolia, won their first match after joining FIFA. Later, they won the champions of the East Asian Football Championship 2010 Preliminary Competition, advanced to the semifinals. The match against Northern Mariana Islands was considered to be the “Mariana Derby”, and Guam’s football and the impact locally have been improved.

Football had long history in East Asia, they have taken root and blossom like a kind of “Football Culture”. Now, they have gradually grown up and have been on the way to success. We are looking forward to seeing how the “Ancient but Refreshing” East Asian football will develop and improve.