I've learned through bitter experience that Wikipedia is not a credible source in academia (nor is the Urban Dictionary a more suitable alternative, it turns out), but since we're not in academia any more here is a wonderful paragraph from an article on Creole football:
There is a common footballing expression in the Spanish speaking world: Cuidar la pelota (which literally means "take care of the ball"). Today the expression refers to the act of maintaining possession of the ball in order to protect a lead, but in the infant years of creole football it literally meant "treat the ball gently". The creoles had grown accustomed to playing the ball in short consecutive "touches", simply because the ball was too expensive to be kicked around and treated like a toy.
Money may do most of the talking in world football today, but at the core of the beautiful game's history is a poverty that made its beauty possible.