Live talk webinar: Cuju

FIFA Museum Seestrasse 27, 8002 Zurich English

The Chinese ball game of cuju has a history dating back over 2,000 years. It is little played today, but its vibrant history lives on. Join us and our experts for a free one-hour webinar where we search for the origins of football in China and compare the cultural impact of cuju and modern football.

To the modern eye, cuju appears to be a fusion of contemporary sports – basketball, football and volleyball all spring to mind – and the fact that an ancient game can bear comparison to modern sports is perhaps one of cuju’s greatest historical legacies. But simply drawing parallels with modern sports does little justice to the role that cuju played in Chinese society for the best part of two millennia.

Extended periods of political stability and economic prosperity saw the game flourish and embed itself into the popular culture of both its rulers and its people, so that even after periods of instability and decline, it was able to re-emerge. Today its cultural value is once again a source of pride for the Chinese nation and since 2015 cuju even has its own museum. Aside from unravelling the impact of the game on Chinese society, we will also discuss the culture of a people that allowed ball sports to flourish over such an extended period of time.

Our experts:

Michael Wood - BBC Broadcaster and Historian

Michael Wood OBE is a Historian, Broadcaster, and Author. He has written and presented over 120 documentary films and he has made 12 films in China since 2014, including the internationally acclaimed The Story of China. Michael is Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester and is currently writing a book on the Chinese poet Du Fu.

Prof. Yang-wen Zheng - Chinese History, University of Manchester

Born in China, Prof. Yang-wen Zheng was educated at Oberlin College (USA) and the University of Cambridge where she received her PhD in 2001. She taught at the University of Pennsylvania, National University of Singapore, and the University of Manchester where she is Professor of Chinese history. She has authored and edited 9 books on China, including The Social Life of Opium in China and Ten Lessons in Modern China History.


Learn more about cuju in our digital exhibition “Origins: Pre-Histories of Football”


All live talk webinars - The Origins of Football