The First International Football Match

In 1872, the first international football (soccer) match occurred between Scotland and which country?

And the answer is: England.

Photo courtesy: Scottish Football Museum. 

In November 1872, Scotland hosted England in what is considered the first official international football / soccer match, with 4,000 spectators looking on. By the beginning of the 20th century, the sport had become more popular around the world, and the first FIFA World Cup was eventually held in 1930.

By the time the rest of Europe had caught on to the simple but riveting game of football (known as soccer to Americans), international teams had already been around for over 30 years. British and Scottish teams had already played in several unofficial games before their 1872 debut, yet it was there at Hamilton Crescent Park in Glasgow, Scotland, that international soccer competition was born. The event drew some 4,000 spectators, many of which clad in the colors of their respective team. Though the match ultimately ended goalless, it sparked one of the fiercest rivalries in the sport and gave way to a competition structure that is still widely practiced today. The Glasgow Herald reported the match, commenting:

"Both sides were working hard, and showing excellent play. The Englishmen had all the advantage of weight, their average being two stone heavier than the Scotchmen and they had the advantage of pace. The strong point of the home club was that they played excellently well together."

Today, the two nations' teams continue to play "excellently well" together, as their rivalry marks the longest running international sports fixture in the world. The respective sides have gone on to play 114 matches against the other, with England winning 48, Scotland 41, 25 ranking as draws.


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