What Is The Difference Between Football And Soccer?
Many of us have been glued to some sort of screen watching Soccer, The Beautiful Game… err Football. No, not American Football with the brownish-reddish elongated spheroid ball, but Football as in Soccer with the spotted black-and-white round ball. The sport is referred to in some countries as Football and in others as Soccer. And that is okay, because both names are used to describe the World Game.
But before we kick off this reading, here’s a quick reminder: saying “Football OR Soccer” is incorrect because the proper terminology is “Football AND Soccer” or “Soccer AND Football.”
So in this blue marble we call Earth, what do we really call this game? Is it soccer? Or is it football? The answer is both. Yes, you can call it Soccer. Yes, you can call it Football. Again, both names refer to the world’s most popular sport of “Soccer and Football,” except depending on how you refer to it, you might get very, very different reactions ranging from a snicker to a high five.
Who came up with the term “Soccer”
In many British Universities way back in the 1800s, “football” was the name given to a variety of sports that involved hitting a ball, throwing a ball, or kicking a ball. Considering the number of "football" games being played across the country, categorizing the games under certain titles was the only practical way for the different groups to be able to agree on a set of regulations. One organization, the Football Association, gave their version of the popular football game the title "Association Football" to set it apart from another game dubbed "Rugby Football."
The British players playing Association Football started calling the game “assoc,” because Association Football was too long of a word to say. Then, “assoc” turned into “asoccer” and finally “soccer” because at that time, ending words in “-er” was snappier, catchier, er-resistable. Okay, that was a terrible pun. But you get it. Oh, and “Rugby Football” was even dubbed as “Rugger.” See how the “-er” ending makes a difference?
The British players playing Association Football started calling the game “assoc,” because Association Football was too long of a phrase to say. Then, “assoc” turned into “asoccer” and finally “soccer” because at that time, ending words in “-er” was snappier, catchier, er-resistable. Okay, that was a t-er-rible pun. But you get it. Oh, and “Rugby Football” was even dubbed as “Rugger.” See how the “-er” ending makes a difference?
“Football” vs “Soccer”
Around the 1900s, Association Football (and Rugby Football) gained popularity across the pond. And just like the British, Americans started using the term “soccer” when describing Association Football. The term was even very popular for most of the 20th century in Britain. According to University of Michigan professor Stefan Szymanski, football and soccer were "almost interchangeable" between 1960 and 1980.
Later on something changed, maybe the stars stopped aligning or whatever, but the use of the word "soccer" in British publications started declining. Some people thought that this decline was possibly due to its association with the Americans. According to Syzmanski in an article in the Business Insider, "Since 1980 the usage of the word 'soccer' has declined in British publications, and where it is used, it usually refers to an American context. This decline seems to be a reaction against the increased usage in the US which seems to be associated with the highpoint of the NASL around 1980."
The Brits coined the term “soccer,” an abbreviation of the name Association Football. For a while, they dubbed the sport "soccer," but because of its associations with the Americans, the term gradually lost favor.
Football and Soccer are interchangeable terms, and both describe the same widely played and adored team sport. Whether you’re Team Football or Team Soccer, don't worry about having to choose one over the other because both titles are good to use.
“Football and Soccer” Around The World
- American English – soccer
- British English – football
- Spanish – el fútbol
- French – le foot / le football
- Dutch – het voetbal
- German – der Fußball
- Italian – il calcio
- Brazilian Portuguese – o futebol
- European Portuguese – o futebol
- Serbian – фудбал
- Finnish – jalkapallo
- Arabic – كرة القدم
- Korean – 축구
- Swedish – fotboll
- Japanese – サッカー