Live talk webinar: Greco-Roman ball games

FIFA Museum Seestrasse 27, 8002 Zurich English

Greece and Rome broke new ground in organised sport, giving the world the Olympic Games and gladiatorial contests. Join us and our experts for a free one-hour webinar to find out why ball games, even though being part of everyday life, were somewhat relegated to the margins in these heroic times.

In both Greece and Rome, there were other sports that were far more popular and important than ball games – sports that were a mass spectacle, with records, famous athletes and even governing bodies. They included ancient chariot racing, the Olympics and, to a lesser extent, gladiatorial contests. But there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the Greeks and Romans played many kinds of ball games and that they were very much part of everyday life. The balls they used were as varied as the games they played, but the emphasis was mainly on exercise and relaxation.

Given that the Romans bequeathed so much to future generations throughout their known world, it is surprising that ball games were not part of that legacy. The English founders of association football interpreted a direct lineage from episkyros to harpastum and then on to calcio fiorentino in Italy and folk football in Great Britain. Join our live talk webinar where we talk about the role ball games played in ancient Greco-Roman times and why it is impossible to establish a link to association football.

Our experts:

Prof. Nigel B. Crowther - Western University, Ontario Canada

Nigel B. Crowther is Emeritus Professor of Classical Studies at Western University, Ontario, Canada. He taught Latin, Greek and Sports History there for 42 years and is the former Director and Chair of the university’s International Centre of Olympic Studies. Among scholars, Crowther best known for his 60 plus articles on ancient and modern sport, and for his 2004 work Athletika. Studies on the Olympic Games and Greek Athletics. Additional to being a frequent contributor to television, radio, newspapers and journals on issues relating to the ancient and modern Olympic Games he is lecturing widely around the world.

Prof. Tony Collins - DeMonfort University, Leicester UK

Tony Collins is Emeritus Professor of History at De Montfort University in Leicester, England, and also a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Sports Humanities at the University of Buckingham. He is the author of many books on the history of sport, most notably How Football Began: The Story of How the World’s Football Codes were Born, The Oval World: A Global History of Rugby and Sport in Capitalist Society. His work has been translated in French, German, Chinese and Japanese, and he has appeared on many television and radio programmes, including as a lead consultant for the BBC’s 30-part radio series Sport and the British.


Learn more about Greco-Roman ball games in our digital exhibition “Origins: Pre-Histories of Football”


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