LONDON: The modern game of association football was born on October 26, 1863.

Ebenezer Morley, a solicitor living in Barnes in south-west London, thought football should have a set of rules in the same way that the MCC had them for cricket. His initiative led to the meeting at which, on his proposal, The Football Association was formed.

The captains, secretaries and other representatives of a dozen London and suburban clubs met at the Freemason’s Tavern in Great Queen Street, near to where Holborn tube station is today.

Their purpose was to form an Association with the object of establishing a definite code of rules for the regulation of the game.

The FA’s intention was to standardise the Laws of the Game to iron out differences, not to create a new game. Morley became The FA’s first secretary, later its president, and he drafted modern football’s first laws at his home in Barnes.

The first match under those laws was played at nearby Limes Field on 19 December 1863. Barnes and Richmond drew 0-0.

The Freemason’s Tavern was extended and remodelled from 1905 and renamed the ‘Connaught Rooms’ in honour of the Grand Master, the Duke of Connaught.

The Football Association is still the organisation that controls all football played in England. There are now ‘football associations’ in more than 200 countries with whom the FA shares membership of UEFA and FIFA, the European and world governing bodies.

The FA is a not-for-profit, governing body. Its stated aim is to “grow  participation, promote diversity and regulate the sport for everyone to enjoy.”

That ‘everyone’ includes 7m  players of all ages, 400,000 volunteers, 300,000 coaches and 27,000 qualified referees. The FA runs 24 England teams, across men’s, women’s, youth and disability football.

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