How Has Football Changed Over The Years And Why

Football Changes

How has football changed over the years and why? (Photo by Prapoth Panchuea on Unsplash).

The beautiful game is one of the simplest sports on the planet. As such, it is estimated that almost forty percent of the UK population sat down to watch a game of football during the 2020/21 season.

Football pits two teams of eleven players against each other on a 105m by 68m pitch to see who can score the most goals. With such a basic premise, you would think that the inventors of the game got it right from the very beginning. However, there have been numerous changes to the game of football throughout the decades, and you may be surprised by the reasons why.

The Ball

The most important part of any professional football game is the ball itself. In Victorian times, people would gather around to play a game of football by kicking around a sheep’s bladder. This material was far from ideal, shaping the ball closer to that of a rugby ball rather than the sphere we know today.

When football became a professional sport in the early 1900s, the ball changed to a concoction of cork shavings and other wood chippings wrapped in leather covering. While this provided a much better shape, the density of the ball was too much for players to bear. You will notice that many players did not head the ball during these games, and it was common for players to receive injuries from kicking the ball at the wrong angle.

In the 1980s, the leather football was retired for good and changed to the synthetic balls that players use today.

Offside Rule

The offside rule is possibly the most complicated rule in all of football. The basic description of the offside rule states that the ball cannot be passed to a fellow player if that player is stood behind the last defender of the opposing team. Some of the complications surrounding this rule may stem from the wording of the description; however, some older fans may not be used to it because the notion of being offside was changed in the 1990s.

Before this time, a player could only be considered offside if three players were in front of the attacker, and this number includes the goalkeeper. However, the rule changed in the 90s to make the game fairer and ensure that all players were attempting to move the ball forward, rather than waste time.


Another move to avoid time-wasting in modern football was the ban on pass-backs to the goalkeeper. In 1992, a rule was introduced that banned goalkeepers from picking up the ball if has been passed by one of their teammates. This rule came as an immediate response to the lacklustre fan response to the 1990 world cup, held in Italy.

It was theorised that too many players were using pass-backs to the goalkeeper to waste time, slowing the game down and making it difficult for trailing teams to catch up. Therefore, the pass-back rule was introduced to keep the ball moving, and it has been so successful that the rule has remained in play to this day.

Gambling Advertising

Not every change to the beautiful game has to do with the rules. Sometimes, a parliamentary decision can have unforeseen knock-on effects. Take, for example, the gambling act of 2005 which made it legal for UK gambling bodies to advertise in public spaces. This meant that sites like could freely advertise their UKGC monitored games of chance without penalty.

As you can guess, sport is a great avenue for avid gamblers to bet on the outcome. Therefore, it is now perfectly normal to experience at least four or five adverts for gambling stores and sites during a standard match.

Goal Line Technology

A common cause of tension among football fans is when a goal is allowed when it clearly did not fall over the goal line. The rules of football state that the entirety of the football must cross the line for it to be considered a goal. Of course, it is almost impossible for the referee and other officials to measure this with their eyes, which has led to several upsetting revelations after key games have finished.

Unfortunately, these revelations have cost teams their place in future tournaments, which in turn loses the club money. That is why it was decided to introduce goal-line technology to the game in 2013. These high-tech cameras are placed along the touchline and can measure the place of a ball about the goal line. Therefore, referees can refer to these cameras whenever there is a dispute over a possible goal. It may take a bit longer for a decision to be made; however, it is more likely to be accurate and fair.


The most recent change to football comes in the form of VAR technology, and it is an advancement in the goal-line technology that came before. This computerised method of determining goals was so successful that officials decided to include it in other decisions during the game.

VAR stands for video assistant referee, and that abbreviation accurately describes its job. This video referee can see every action from various angles to give the actual ref a 360 view of incidents on the pitch. This means that they can request a slow-motion replay of events, view these events from different angles, and call for data that refers to the last play.

All this means is that the referee is more informed about decisions relating to fouls, goals, and issues relating to the ball going out of bounds. There is little dispute among the football community about the success of this technology, as these cameras can keep the ref informed enough to continue running a game that is always fair.


Football is one of the least changed sports since its inception and that is mainly due to its simple nature. However, as the game has received more popularity, some changes have become necessary to make the game fairer, and to increase the intensity of the modern game. There are very few fans out there that disagree with these changes, and you can now understand why.

NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
1 Flightline 351
2 Life Is Good 306
3 Olympiad 292
4 Jackie's Warrior 282
5 Clairiere 142
5 Country Grammer 142
7 Epicenter 121
8 Regal Glory 89
9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

DRF Past Performances

Check out the most powerful
interactive Past Performances
used by Michael Dempsey. Use the code TENOFF19 which gives
you a 10% discount on any DRF Formulator plan that is one month or longer.


Free Horse Racing Picks

Get free horse racing picks each day from expert race handicapper Michael Dempsey Click Here

Belmont Stakes News & Reports
Breeders' Cup
Turf ‘n’ Sport handicapper Michael Dempsey has the Belmont Stakes covered with his selections, analysis and fair odds for every race on the card!
Wager on the Belmont Stakes
Belmont Stakes News

Belmont Stakes Reports

Horse Racing Betting Tips

Horse Racing Betting Tips
Turf 'n' Sport handicappers give out basic horse racing handicapping information..