London's football history: Laws of the Game

  • Laws of the Game first formalised in London in 1863

  • First game under those laws played in English capital that year

  • The Best FIFA Football Awards to be hosted in the city in October

London will welcome the stars of the footballing world on Monday 23 October, when the city plays host to The Best FIFA Football Awards™. It is fitting that the greats of the global game are to be celebrated in a city steeped in football history. takes a look back at how the English capital has played a key role in the development of the beautiful game.

Humble beginningsOn Monday 26 October 1863, a meeting took place at the Freemasons' Tavern in London that would sculpt the fate of football for generations to come. Ebenezer Morley, a solicitor and local sportsman, met with representatives of a dozen London and suburban clubs and proposed that football should have one standardised set of rules. At that meeting, The Football Association was formed and the original Laws of the Game began to take shape.

A few months later, the first game played under the new laws took place. On 19 December 1863, Barnes, whose line-up included Morley, played out a goalless draw with Richmond at Limes Field in the London suburb of Mortlake.

London hosted another historic game almost a decade later, with the inaugural FA Cup final seeing Wanderers defeat Royal Engineers 1-0 on 16 March 1872. The game was played in front of 2000 spectators at what was then called the Kennington Oval, which was - and remains to this day - a cricket ground in South London.

The Laws of the Game were disputed up until the late 1870s, largely by the Sheffield clubs (Sheffield FC and Hallam FC), who had formed their own set of laws. The formation of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in 1886 put an end to all arguments though.

Update, and the modern dayStanley Rous, then based in London as the FA's Secretary, helped give the Laws of the Game a comprehensive overhaul in 1938. Rous, who would go on to become FIFA President in 1961, did such a good job with his re-drafting of the laws that it was not until 1997 that they were revised for a second time.

London continues to play a key role in keeping the Laws of the Game up-to-date in the modern age too. Earlier this year, the 131st Annual General Meeting of The IFAB took place at Wembley Stadium, where discussions on the use of Video Assistant Referees (VARs) continued and a fourth substitute in extra time took place.

Evidence then, if it were needed, that the seeds planted in 1863 mean the modern game's roots are firmly planted in the city of London.

Laws of the Game, the early days

1863: Offside was included, but the law was worded to mean that any attacker ahead of the ball was effectively offside

1869: Goal kicks were introduced

1872: Corner kicks were written into the laws

1878: A referee used a whistle for the first time

1891: Penalties(also known as the 'kick of death') were introduced. Until then, it was assumed a true gentleman would never deliberately commit a foul