Professionalism in association football
Association football is the world's most popular sport, and is worth US$600 billion worldwide. By the end of the 20th century it was played by over 250 million players in over 200 countries. Around the world, the sport is played at a professional level by professional footballers, and millions of people regularly go to football stadiums to follow their favourite football teams, while billions more watch the sport on television or on the internet. Football has the highest global television audience in sport. The sport had amateur origins and evolved into the modern professional competition.
Association football was first codified in 1863, with the formation of the Football Association (FA) in England. At this time the sport was played mainly by public schools, or teams with public school roots, and amateurism was the norm. This remained the case until the 1880s, when working-class teams began to vie for supremacy. Blackburn Olympic, a team composed mainly of factory workers, won the 1883 FA Cup Final. They were the first working-class team to win the competition since its inception in 1870. Though professionalism was not permitted, Olympic arranged jobs for their players, and supplemented their income with additional payments, a common occurrence among Lancashire clubs.
The issue of professionalism arose in 1880 when a dispute began between the FA and Bolton Wanderers (founded in 1874), who had offered professional terms to Scottish players. Scottish players who played in England professionally were known as the Scotch Professors. The subject remained a heated one through the 1880s, directly or indirectly involving many other clubs besides Bolton. Their neighbours, Blackburn Rovers (founded in 1875) and Darwen (founded in 1870) had also signed Scottish players professionally. The FA espoused the ideal of so–called "amateurism" promoted by the likes of Corinthian F.C. from whom the phrase “Corinthian Spirit” came into being.
The differences between the amateur idealists from southern England and the increasingly professionalised teams from northern industrial towns came to a head in 1884. After Preston North End won an FA Cup match against Upton Park, the Londoners protested, seeking the result to be overturned due to the presence of paid players in the Preston ranks. This sparked a series of events which threatened to split the FA. Preston withdrew from the competition, and fellow Lancashire clubs Burnley and Great Lever followed suit. The protest gathered momentum, to the point where more than 30 clubs, predominantly from the north, announced that they would set up a rival British Football Association if the FA did not permit professionalism. 18 months later the FA relented, and in July 1885 professionalism was formally legalised in England.
Though English clubs employed professionals, the Scottish Football Association continued to forbid the practice. Consequently, many Scottish players migrated southward. At first the FA put residential restrictions in place to prevent this, but these were abandoned by 1889. In the inaugural season of the Football League (1888–89), champions Preston North End fielded ten Scottish professionals.
One of the teams to benefit from the move of Scottish players to England, who were nicknamed the "Scotch Professors", was Sunderland. The club went professional in 1885, and the club recruited a number of Scotsmen the same year, their first internationally capped players. Founder James Allan left Sunderland in 1888 because of his dislike for the "professionalism" that had been creeping into the club, and subsequently formed Sunderland Albion.
The wealthy miner Samuel Tyzack, who alongside and shipbuilder Robert Turnbull funded the now professional "team of all talents," often pretended to be a priest while scouting for players in Scotland, as Sunderland's recruitment policy in Scotland enraged many Scottish fans. In fact, the whole Sunderland lineup in the 1895 World Championship was made from entirely Scottish players.  On 5 April 1890, the Football League's founder, William McGregor, labelled Sunderland as "the team of all talents" stating that they had "a talented man in every position".
Preston North End, the first English team to win the Championship and Cup "double", did so with a majority of their team being made up of Scottish players. In the first season, they went undefeated both in the league and the FA Cup, which led to them being known as "the invincibles." 
The Scottish FA lifted its ban on professionalism in 1893, whereupon 560 players were registered as professionals. Although Scotland’s most powerful club and founders of both the passing and international game, Queen's Park, initially refused to participate in the new professional league (not joining until 1900) and remained committed to the amateur principles even after entering into competition with professional clubs. They remained an amateur club until January 2020.
In the Soviet Union and the Communist block, athletes were written down as amateurs, even if they were de facto professional. Football clubs were no exception, and they were mostly linked to trade unions or government offices, with players being written down as workers of those particular industries. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, clubs and players officially gained the professional status. 
Timeline by country
This table details the year in which professionalism was introduced, country by country.
|England||1885||Football League, first professional league, formed 1888|
|United States||1894||The American League of Professional Football was created by team owners from the National League to compete during professional baseball's off-season. It lasted only one season.|
|Austria||1924||First fully professional league in continental Europe|
|Italy||1926||it:Carta di Viareggio|
|Mexico||1927||Year when the national team turned professional. Mexico's first professional league was formed in 1943.|
|Brazil||1933||São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro state leagues.|
|Philippines||2017||The Philippines Football League is the first professional league in the country.|
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