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The Difference between Soccer and Football

10/5/18 The Difference between Soccer and Football


The majority of people in the world call “football” what Americans know as “soccer”. To understand why Americans call the sport soccer whilst the rest of the world calls it football, it is important to understand the origin of both terms.

  • Football: The name ‘football’ is a shortened version of the official name of the game, association football. Association football was the term coined in 1863 when the Football Association codified the rules of the game. The word ‘association’ was added to distinguish it from other games such as rugby football.
  • Soccer: The word ‘soccer’ is believed to be derived from the term association football. With rugby football softened being shortened to ‘rugger’, a similar thing occurred with association football.

Whilst in the rest of the world, the term soccer came into use alongside that of football, in America, the term soccer became the prevailing term for the game of association football. The reason for this is that it was necessary to distinguish it from the other form of football in the USA, American football.
Today, the term soccer is largely only used in the USA but the term is widely understood across the world as meaning football. However, in the UK especially, the term soccer can be problematic with some fans insisting that the term should never be used, believing the Americans are renaming ‘their’ sport to distinguish it from American football.


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