Americans are getting ready for the biggest soccer event in the world. For the first time the world cup soccer competition will be held in the United States. While millions play the game around the world, soccer or football has only recently become popular here. It is only in the last 30 years that large numbers of young Americans became interested in soccer. Now it is the fastest growing sport in the country. A recent study found that almost 18 million young boys and girls play soccer in the United States.
The study also found that soccer is beginning to replace more traditional games like American football as the most popular sport among students. And so, when the world cup begins next week, more than one million Americans are expected to go and see the teams play. Organizers say this year' s world cup will be the biggest ever. All the seats at most of the 52 games have already been sold.
Soccer has been played in the United States for a little more than one hundred years. But how did the sport come to this country? And how long has it existed in other parts of the world? No one knows exactly where the idea for soccer came from, or when people began playing the game. Some scientists say there is evidence that ball games using the feet were played thousands of years ago. There is evidence that ancient Greeks and Romans and native American Indians all played games sim- ilar to soccer.
Most experts agree that Britain is the birthplace of modem soccer. They also agree that the British spread the game around the world. Unlike the game today, which uses balls of man-made material or leather, early soccer balls were often made of animal stomachs. The rules of early soccer games also differed from those we have today.