Why British royals banned soccer

The early iterations of association football did not receive a warm welcome in medieval Britain.

Starting with King Edward II in 1314, soccer was barred by a procession of English monarchs, including Edward III, Richard II, and Henry IV. The push toward prohibition eventually spread north of the border, where Scottish kings like James II and James IV also forbade their subjects from playing the sport, along with Scotland’s most treasured game, golf. The royals’ reasoning was simple — recreational sports distracted from archery practice, an essential skill for ordinary citizens expected to take up arms for their king at a moment’s notice.

Soccer and golf only grew in popularity, however, and over the centuries, the restrictions against them faded into legal obscurity.

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