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Ancient Chinese Football
Cuju (literally "kick ball") is an ancient code of football with similarities to association football. It originated in China and was also played in Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

Some historians claim that the Yellow Emperor invented the game for military training purposes, while others place its emergence during China's Warring States Period (476-221 BC). A competitive form of cuju was used as fitness training for military soldier, while other forms were played for entertainment.

During the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), the popularity of cuju spread from the army to the royal courts and upper classes. It is said that the Han emperor Wu Di enjoyed the sport. At the same time, cuju games were standardized and rules were established. The sport was improved during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Tang Dynasty capital of Chang'an was filled with cuju football fields, in the backyards of large mansions, and some were even established in the grounds of the palaces. The level of female cuju teams also improved.

Cuju flourished during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) due to social and economic development, extending its popularity to every class in society. At that time, professional cuju players were quite popular, and the sport began to take on a commercial edge.

Cuju began its decline during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) due to neglect, and the 2,000-year-old sport slowly faded away.
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