Channel: Before The 'D'...Association Football around the world, 1863-1937.
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Saturday and Sunday...


On March 5th 1899 Old Boys Basel were due to play Lausanne Football and Cricket Club in the finals of the Swiss National Championship. Lausanne had scored 10 goals to 2 against in their 2 group matches, whereas Old Boys had required a replay to get past their local rivals Basel. 
Lausanne, however, withdrew from the game, presenting Old Boys with a walkover. March the 5th was a Sunday. Lausanne's membership was largely made up of Englishmen, and Englishmen did not play football on Sundays...
In the United Kingdom football was always a Saturday game. Saturday and football, almost synonymous. In fact the very first game played using the newly drafted Association Rules, the goalless draw between Barnes and Richmond, took place on a Saturday- 19th December 1863.
As early as 1869 the Roman Catholic bishop of Liverpool had supported the view that playing football on a Sunday should be allowed as preferable to spending time in the pub, but it  was not until  111 years after the foundation of the Football Association that a Football match was held on a Sunday in the UK.
Saturday afternoon was enshrined as the leisure preserve of the working man by the Factory Act of  1856, which stated that all work must stop at 2pm on a Saturday. Even though the originators of  organized football were not working men, they would have been connected to this five and a half day pattern of work by their business or professional interests.
Despite the widespread adoption of  la semaine anglaise other countries tended not to associate Saturday as being football day and Sunday a sacred day of rest. So when did countries around the world tend to play their football?

U.S.A  -The practice of playing on Saturdays was copied in the USA ( the matches of the 1884-85 American Cup providing the earliest example).

South America-Sunday was the favoured day. Internationals between Argentina  and Uruguay were played on Sundays (sometimes on a weekday). In the amateur era Argentine league matches were played on any day of the week.

Austria-Hungary- In Hungary league matches were played on a Sunday from the outset. International matches seem to have been played on occasion in midweek, but generally on a Sunday.

Germany- Germany played international matches on a Sunday (with the exception of an early game against England amateurs) and the matches in the domestic club competitions also took part on Sundays.

France- Sunday was the day for football. 

Italy- matches were played on a Sunday from the earliest times (the most extreme example being the 1898 championship all being decided on one day).

Spain- the early fixtures of Barcelona seem to have taken place on just about any day of the week, and weekday football appears to have been the norm in the early days of the Copa del Rey. When La Liga came into being in 1929 Sunday was football day.

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