The Origin of the Word “Soccer”

jabulani soccer ballToday I found out the origin of the word “soccer”.  For all you out there who love to complain when Americans, and certain others, call “Football”, “Soccer”, you should know that it was the British that invented the word and it was also one of the first names of what we now primarily know of as “Football”.

In fact, in the early days of the sport among the upper echelons of British society, the proper term for the sport was “Soccer”.  Not only that, but the sport being referred to as “Soccer” preceded the first recorded instance of it being called by the singular word “Football” by about 18 years,  with the latter happening when it became more popular with the middle and lower class. When that happened, the term “Football” gradually began dominating over “Soccer” and the then official name “Association Football”.

In the 1860s, as in most of history- with records as far back as 1004 B.C.- there were quite a lot of “football” sports in existence being played popularly throughout the world and of course, England.   Many of these sports had similar rules and eventually, on October 26th, 1863, a group of teams in England decided to get together and create a standard set of rules which would be used at all their matches.  They formed the rules for “Association Football”, with the “Association” distinguishing it from the many other types of football sports in existence in England, such as “Rugby Football”.

Now British school boys of the day liked to nickname everything, which is still somewhat common.  They also liked to add the ending “er” to these nicknames.  Thus Rugby was, at that time, popularly called “Rugger”.  Association Football was then much better known as “Assoccer”, which quickly just became “Soccer” and sometimes “Soccer Football”.

The inventor of the nickname is said to be Charles Wredford Brown, who was an Oxford student around the time of Association Football’s inception.  Legend has it, in 1863 shortly after the creation of Association Football, Wredford-Brown had some friends who asked him if he’d come play a game of “Rugger”, to which he replied he preferred “Soccer”.  Whether that story’s true or not, the name caught on from around that point on.

In the beginning, the newly standardized Rugby and Soccer were football sports for “gentlemen”, primarily being played by the upper echelons of society.  However, these two forms of football gradually spread to the masses, particularly Soccer as Rugby didn’t really catch on too well with the lower classes.  This resulted in the name switching from “Soccer” and “Association Football”, to just “Football”; with the first documented case of the sport being called by the singular term “Football” coming in 1881, 18 years after it was first called “Soccer” or, officially, “Association Football”.

The game gradually spread throughout the world under the lower class name of “Football”, rather than “Soccer” as the “gentlemen” called it.  The problem was, though, that a lot of other countries of the world already had popular sports of their own they called “Football”, such as the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, to name a few.  In these countries, the name “Soccer” was and, in some,  still is preferred for this reason.

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Bonus Facts:

  • Just as intriguing, for those who like to lambaste American Football being called such when the ball interacts primarily with hands, most of the earliest forms of Football were named thus, not because you kicked a ball with your foot, but because they were played on foot.   Peasants played most of their sports on foot; aristocrats played most of theirs on horseback.  Thus, games played on foot were called “football”, whether they had anything to do with kicking a ball or not.  Indeed, many of the earliest forms of football involved carrying balls in an attempt to get across goal lines passed some opposing team or individual players.
  • Soccer balls were originally painted with the now classic black and white checkered look in order to make them more visible on black and white TV during the 1970 FIFA World Cup.  Naturally, people wanted to buy balls that looked like those that the professionals used on TV and thus everybody bought the black and white checkered soccer ball instead of the previous traditional solid color ball.
  • In the United States, early on the word “Football” was incorporated in the name for Soccer.    The first name of the league was the “United States Soccer Football Association”.  This lasted about 30 years before it was shortened to simply the “United States Soccer Federation” in 1975.
  • “Rugby” was also once known as “Football” and originally had almost the same set of rules as Soccer, though over time increasingly diverged.  The name “Rugby” comes from Rugby School in England.  Legend has it, during a Football match at that school, William Webb Ellis picked up the ball in his hands and ran with it over the goal line.  It didn’t count as an official goal, as you weren’t supposed to use your hands; but the referee remarked, it was a “jolly good ‘try'”, which, according to legend, is where that particular Rugby scoring term comes from.  The official Rugby Union was then formed in 1871 with a split in 1893 forming the Rugby League.
  • Rugby never caught on with the lower class as Soccer did.  Thus, the famous British saying, “Soccer is a gentleman’s game played by ruffians and Rugby is a ruffian’s game played by gentlemen.”
  • The earliest known record of a Soccer-like sport was in 1004 B.C. in Japan.  There are also many references to Soccer-like sports in 50 B.C. China, even being played between teams from China and Japan.
  • The Romans also played several types of Football games, including some that resembled Soccer.  One of which was also included in the Roman Olympic Games.  This particular version, in the Olympic Games, featured 27 men a side.  The game was so rough that 2/3 of the players had to be hospitalized after the game.
  • The last genuine leather soccer ball used in the World Cup was the Adidas Tango Espana, used in the 1982 World Cup.  Shortly thereafter, in 1986, the first fully synthetic World Cup soccer ball was used.
  • The designers of the Adidas Teamgeist, used in the 2006 World Cup, claim that ball was the roundest ever made for a sport.
  • During King Edward’s reign (1307-1327), he had laws passed against the playing of football sports.  Anyone caught playing any form of football would be imprisoned, “For as much as there is a great noise in the city caused by hustling over large balls, from which many evils may arise…”
  • He wasn’t the only British monarch that hated football.  Queen Elizabeth the First “had football players jailed for a week, with follow-up church penance”.  King Henry IV and Henry VIII also passed laws against football sports.
  • American Football was originally known in England as “Start-Stop Rugby with Padding”… Catchy. :-)
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  • You should think about renaming the Bonus facts section of your post from “factoids” to something else. A factoid from “Something fictitious or unsubstantiated that is presented as fact, devised esp. to gain publicity and accepted because of constant repetition.”

    Unless that is what you are going for.

    • Daven Hiskey

      Check out my link on the “Factoids” part of the “Bonus Factoids”. I’ve written an article concerning this. Honestly though, mostly at this point, my keeping it “factoids” instead of “facts” is out of stubbornness. ;-)

  • william wallace

    Didn’t read

    its football

    k thx

  • “American Football” is still known as ‘start-stop rugby with padding’, although these days we sometimes leave out the ‘start-stop’ bit.

  • Where did you find this information out? Seeing as you forgot that crucial part… I hesitate to believe.
    Interesting though.

    • Daven Hiskey

      See the sources. I got all the information from those links. I also tend to not put something unless I can find multiple reputable sources for some bit of information. I’ll rarely put all those sources, which would really just be duplicate sources for the same information; thus, I usually will just put the most convenient one for people to look at (generally links). But rest assured, I take the quality of information extremely seriously on my site. If you ever find inaccuracies, don’t hesitate to point them out. My goal here, albeit probably slightly unrealistic, is to be 100% accurate on everything I say in my articles. I personally get a little tired of all the “fact” websites out there that have 1000s of “facts” of which half of them or so are completely not true.

  • weird, not one citation in the whole list…

  • John Savage Tomakin

    Piss off! Bloody ignorant yanks! lol!
    First off, aside from the relatively modern aberrance of the “Recieved Pronounciation”/”King’s English” developed in English “Public” schools (that are actually rather private as only the upper echelon of the English socio/econo/politico hierarchy, dominated by the Royal Family, could afford to gain addmittance to them), the “correct” or “accepted” form and usage of of a word depended upon the universality of it’s useage accross the myriad regional sub-dialects found throughout the English shires: the more people accross the more regions that used a common word to describe an abstract concept the greater the accepted correctness of the word in the “English” vocabulary- I doubt not that the functionality and efficiancy of the word greatly influenced the larger acceptance and percieved correctness of the word. Basically, the more people that use it over a larger area the more it’s legitamacy as a definition of an English word.
    Second, up until the various modern “codifications” of the ball game played “on foot” by the above mentioned social elite schools (the graduates of which would go on to run the government and rule the country) , the original game played in England (undoubtedly there were simular games played around the world over the centuries that named it something in the local language but we’re talking about the conjunction of the English words “foot” and “ball” to name a game) since time immemorable was a competition “on foot “between the teams of different villages, towns, or cities that involved simply one team moving the ball (typically a pig’s bladder) from a midpoint between said village/town/city into their own village/town/city centre to score by whatever means possible using the relatively unarmored human body alone (carrying, throwing, kicking, elbowing, kneeing, heading, etc.) while doing one’s best to prevent the opposing team from interfereing in a relatively “no-holds barred” fashion (punching, kicking, tackling, elbowing, biting, headbutting, kneeing, gouging, scratching, throttleing, etc.). In essence a combination of the basic aspects of all the various later modern codifications of limiting rulesets of ball games played on foot in England of which the dominant ones were the primarialy no hands ball control only ruleset of the “Football Associations” (from which the slang word soccer was derived) and the primarily hand ball control of the Rugby Leagues (modern American grid football apparently evolved from a game called Stop-Start Rugby with Padding!) that splintered from this common root that probably goes back to the days of the Danelaw where, one could conjecture, the common born (who couldn’t afford to use a horse for sport) of neighboring Saxon and Norse/Danish villages/towns/cities could compete against each other in a less lethal manner to vent off the primal pressure of mutual antagonism between two or more disseperate socio-geno population groups.
    So, in summation, as it’s quite likely that more people accross a greater regional and cultureal spectrum of the world call the Football Association style ruleset for the ball game played on foot using primarilly the foot “football” than call it by the slang term “soccer”, then that is the “accepted” “correct” name for it. By the same reasoning, as it’s quite likely that more people accross a greater regional and cultureal spectrum of the world call the USA’s NFL style ruleset for the ball game played on foot using primarilly the carry “American football” than call it just “Football”, then that is the “accepted” “correct” name for it.
    At this point I will also point out that the overwhelming majority ( I would estimate more than 90+%) of yanks don’t speak English… because they haven’t been English for over two and a half centuries, they speak American.. generally at an eighth grade (academic year) level at best. They have unwittingly mangled the English language from which it descends with a profound and pervasive ignorance of the “accepted” “correct” gramatical useage of the syntax, spelling, and vocabulary of the the language spoken by Englishmen.

    • Such a ridiculous and contradictory post. By your own argument Soccer is the correct term in American English. And you display a great misunderstanding of England’s place in the world. There is no longer an empire and you certainly cannot control the language in the same way that Spanish or French does, because you don’t have an academy. Go read a few books, educate yourself and then post something worthwhile.

  • The word ‘soccer’ is commonly used in England.

  • Great post! Thanks for that… I’m not sure I can believe we (English) came up with soccer… all those years I have been calling everyone that calls it soccer a fool, when in fact they are just wana be toffs :) Maybe I need to change my blog title now!

  • John Savage Tomakin

    Actually, forget everything that I just said as I have absolutely no idea what I am talking about.

  • Daven

    Your information is wrong on at least one count. the word “try” in rugby comes from the original way to score points in rugby, which was by crossing the line with the ball in hand allowed you a “try” to kick for goals.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Joel: Yep, that is why I called that story a legend. Seemed like one of those nice stories that is popularly believed and paraded about as fact, but has nothing to do with the way it actually happened. Another similar one like this is that Abner Doubleday sat down one day and invented baseball; note: he didn’t invent it and probably didn’t even have anything whatsoever to do with the sport. The actual history and eventual establishment of the sport was much more complicated and, frankly, much more interesting. hmmm. I should write and article on that one. As an avid baseball fan and a fact nazi, that one has always bothered me. :-)

  • In rugby, a “try” is so called because originally a try did not score any points, it allowed you to “try” for a kick between the posts.

  • Rugby Football -> Rugby

    Charterhouse Football -> Football

    Did you know, the first FA cup final was between two school?

  • Seems like someone has a stick up their arse

  • We call it Football now, so I still don’t care.

    You can only use your feet, most of the world calls it football with this in mind. Nobody outside of america calls American Football “football” so “soccer” should be called football. Rename your boring sport if it’s such an issue.

    • Lots of countries still call it Soccer, like Australia and New Zealand, so piss off.

      • that’s because they play australian football in australia, which is what we call rugby, so they did the same as americans with the name.

        • @Flickdbean – Australian Football is NOT the same as Rugby. They are similar sports, but nobody calls Australian Football…Rugby. Different rules, different field layout, different scoring, different style.
          Just sayin’

      • Wow, so many countries in the world: 3!!!

      • lol, since when did Australia or New Zealand play any role in football?

      • Uh, no. Much, much more countries call it “football” in their own languages – US, Australia and New Zealand only make three countries…

        Germany: Fussball
        Sweden: Fotboll
        Spain: Fútbol
        Finland: Jalkapallo
        Poland: Piłka nożna (literally “ball-leg”)
        Greece: Podosphero (“podo/podi” refers to feet or legs and “sphero” to sphere or ball)

        And so on.
        Soccer is virtually unknown term in most parts of the world. It has no translation. A translation would also be totally unnecessary, because football is football.

        • And then we have

          FIFA: The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA /ˈfiːfə/; English: International Federation of Association Football)

          And its member bodies

          AFC – Asian Football Confederation
          CAF – Confederation of African Football
          CONCACAF – Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football
          CONMEBOL – Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol
          OFC – Oceania Football Confederation
          UEFA – Union of European Football Associations

          With no a “soccer” in sight.

          It also has the advantage of not being played in homo-erotic Kit designed by Tom of Finland on a frisky day.

        • I once looked up the Buenos Aires Herald (english version) and the result of the Germany – Argentine match was under the headline of Soccer Results.
          On the same page was a history of the game under the banner of History of Soccer. Interested, I checked a newspaper in Mexico (can’t remember which one) and they also referred to the game as Soccer.
          In all the major countries the British emigrated to, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Australia, South Africa, and even India the game is called Soccer, and its not the main game in those countries.
          In Australia in the late 1800’s it was called British Association Football to distinguish the game from Australian Football. Even the main body governing the game up to 10 years ago was called the National Soccer League, now its the A League. (Australian, Association, Amateur League? who knows what it stands for).
          The Australian team is called the Socceroos.

    • @James YOU and PEOPLE LIKE YOU are the only ones who have an issue with it. We are perfectly fine calling it soccer. YOU are making it an issue.

      • Dell, that’s because Americans changed the meaning of football, when they came up with their variant of rugby with safety gear added. It’s more accurate to call their game hand egg.

      • Yeah, the thing is that ‘him’ and ‘people like him’ are the majority of people in the world. Soccer = sucker!

    • actually you dont just use your feet you use every part of your body except your hands so its not just foot ball, fckin morons and the goalie uses his hands so there goes the only use there feet theory use your brain before spewing out bs comments

    • Notice that english people are the only ones that care about the name ‘soccer’ or ‘football’. I NEVER see anyone from any other country except for England fuss about the name. Heck, i have heard lots of people in germany call it soccer but no one cares..except for the british…

      • That’s not surprising Les, considering that football is an English thing that was invented in England, which is part of the UK. It does not come from anywhere else in the world.

  • John Savage Tomakin

    I, the author of the longer post by this screen name, did not write the post as follows:

    John Savage Tomakin says:
    June 24, 2010 at 5:33 am
    Actually, forget everything that I just said as I have absolutely no idea what I am talking about.

    Some other clever monkey stole my screen name to do that.
    BTW, all the “facts” presented in my post are commonly availible from sources ranging from the encyclopeadias such as Britanica and Wikipeadia to the numerous books on football and history I read as a boy in England over 42 years ago to the acclaimed book and BBCTV series, The Story of English. All conjecture is mine based on a logical extrapolation of the “facts” provided.

  • It sounds like there’s a fundamental misunderstanding in why English football fans object to football being called soccer. It isn’t because the term isn’t used in England, it’s because it’s an upper class term. That’s why the average fan doesn’t like it.

    By the way it isn’t really true to say rugby didn’t take off well with the lower classes. At an early stage rugby split into two games, Rugby Union and Rugby League. The point of disagreement was wether players with jobs could be compensated for taking unpaid time off work to play. Rugby Union was strictly amateur (until very recently) and upper class, Rugby League had professionals and, particularly in some parts of Northern England, is a major working class game.

  • Today I found out that “factoid” used to mean: “Something fictitious or unsubstantiated that is presented as fact, devised esp. to gain publicity and accepted because of constant repetition.”

  • Call it whatever you like, its still a boring game played by sissies. (If you disagree with me, Ill fall on the ground and grab my knee and cry like a little girl until you get a yellow card)

    • The term “soccer” was most certainly used by the north american ignorants having no inspiration due to the lack of circumvolutions on their grey matter!
      To be able to play this newly emerged sport with no name north americans are swallowing anabolizants to call themselve tougher than any other nation!
      It looks that the same anabolizants are necesary to boost your ignorant consciousness, you could rename the european kind of football with the original latin name from 1004 BC if it crossed your retarded mind.
      Who is the sissy when you take drugs to pump your muscles in the mirror?!
      Ever tried to be kicked on your legs with the crampons?!
      Ups you wont feel it due to the same drugs!!!

    • Unlike the game played by the American nancies mincing along with a ball like a Gucci clutch purse where there’s 19 minutes of actual movement in a 17 hour long game, of whatever it is.

  • Someone please send this article to John Cleese. He just made a short video ranting about American football, and postulating where we came up with the word.

  • Actually it couldn’t have been known at first as start stop rugby with padding as there was no padding. Padding was gradually added because so many young men were being killed playing American Football.

    Rugby features no pads because it features few hard hits. Players can’t get up to full speed and with no forward pass there are very few blind-side hits like in American Football.

  • See the sources. I did. The online etymology one for football, at the end is talking about the first usage in 1881 of Football for the “American start-stop rugby with padding” game and not Association Football. Just look at the context and it’s clear.

    “The U.S. style (known to some in England as “stop-start rugby with padding”) evolved gradually 19c.; the first true collegiate game is considered to have been played Nov. 6, 1869, between Princeton and Rutgers, at Rutgers, but the rules there were more like soccer. A rematch at Princeton Nov. 13, with the home team’s rules, was true U.S. football. The earliest recorded application of the word football to this is from 1881.”

  • So if soccer is a shortening from “Association Football”, why don’t we pronounce it “sosh-er”?

  • Because it’s not “assoshiation”.

  • Doesn’t matter what you say, Brits will find something to QQ about. It’s in their nature to be complainers.

  • John Savage,
    Let me guess…hmm you never played the sport,never have been popular and therefore turned to looking up ‘big’ words in the dictionary and belittle anyone who doesn’t speak the ‘King’s English’. You have so many sentences that do not make sense. Do you know what a run on sentence is? You cut up the yanks, but you are so proud of your English language. Did you invent the language? A rose by any other rose is still a rose. Still upset that the yanks beat you in the World Cup? You stated that <"Basically, the more people that use it over a larger area the more it’s legitamacy as a definition of an English word." Therefore in your words the word 'soccer' would be ther proper term used by yanks. The article about the word soccer was not meant to get your knickers in a knot, just to show that perhaps, the term came from an Englishmen. Your writing is beyond boring. Ever here of a comma or short stop or pause, or what every your pompous dictionary says? I am English and your comments embarrass me. My grandfather faught with 'yanks's in WWII and as the old joke goes, if it wasn't for the yanks and Canadians you would be speaking German. Americans are descendents of England(not all but many) so in essence you are cutting up your hereitage. Language changes over time. I am so sure that Portsmouth is pronounced 'Portsmiff' and in London 'three' is 'free'. I travel to America a lto and other countries and blokes like you are the reason people can be anti 'English'. I bet your dictionary is spelled' DICK-tionary!

    • Biff – it’s nothing to do with the americans that we are ‘not speaking german’ – it’s down to Hitler’s overreaching and misguided attempt to direct the attacks on 2 fronts. Had he focussed on france and britain instead of aiming for Russia, we would have been up shit creek, and nothing the americans did would have stopped it. After all, let’s face it, with the isolationism they would never have lifted a finger either, were it not for Pearl Harbour. For exactly that reason I fail to believe you are english – or at the very worst you must be english but ill-educated in history!

  • Oh yeah in America they don’t call it ‘American football’ just like here in England we do not call them ,’ English muffins’. Savage, your name is quite fitting, you ever been outside of a library mate? Get a life man. Go on.

  • In the 1950s, 1960s and even the 1970s the term ‘soccer’ was regularly used throughout England. The term was often used in annual publications such as


    which advertises Bobby Charlton’s “This Game of Soccer”.

    Its only the recent, ‘johnny-come-lately’s’ to the game who haven’t got a clue who criticise the yanks about their use of the term soccer.

  • Its pronounced “Football” you bunch of retards.

  • (Not the same Tim as already in the comments.)

    Nice story about a game I love. It’s interesting that I’ve read the same story except that the other article said the same events occurred at an American ivy-league school.

    The San Francisco league still uses the soccer football name, the San Francisco Soccer Football league. Now it makes sense, especially since it was formed in 1902. It’s quite the league too. Some teams take a bus over a hundred miles every Sunday to play here.

  • I find a lot of records that show that “Charles Wreford-Brown (9 October 1866 – 26 November 1951). ”

    That would make it hard for him to say “soccer” in 1863, as you mentioned.

  • Just got linked to this by the Redskins Blog, in connection to the ticket sale for the USMNT vs. Brazil. I applaud you for chronicling the long, rich tradition of the soccer name, but your comments seem contradictory.

    You claim that soccer came before football, which cannot be true, if “soccer” is derived from “Association Football”. It might have had some currency before football (without “Association”) was more the more widely accepted name, but even that seems dubious. “Association,” as you say, was adopted to distinguish it from other games referred to as football. So, “football” must have come first.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @fischy: If you read a little closer, you’ll see I said that “soccer” came before the first reference of Association Football being called just “football”.

  • I think your all missing something, if soccer was derived from the Association Football – they surely the Football part of Association Football, predates the Soccer.
    Hence the game was known as football before soccer. I am sure the word soccer is never used on the terraces in any stadium in the UK, and using the phrase on the terraces will show you for the fool you are.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Alan: except for the fact that around that time there were a ridiculous number of popular sports that were called XYZ Football, so it isn’t necessarily the case that people would have called it just Football as that wouldn’t have said anything about what sport it was. This is probably why there are no early references of it just being called the singular term “Football”, but there are of it being called Soccer and the full name, Association Football.

  • If you watch any football on English TV or know any1 into football who is English you would know that the word ‘soccer’ makes me physically sick!

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Arthur: Unless that English person is over around 50-60-ish years old. Those English people remember that when they were kids, Association Football was called soccer just as much as the singular “football” in the U.K.

      • Hate to burst your bubble here (love the site) but that’s not true. If a man/woman in their 60’s now were to cast their mind back to their childhood it would put them in roughly the late 1950’s/60’s. That’s over 80 years after the term football became widely accepted according to the article so it would be more likely that when a person now in their 60’s were a child perhaps a person of that era then in their 60’s would be able to remmeber others referring to it as soccer but amost certainly would not have done so themselves.

        Good article though, I have always wondered where the term soccer came from

  • The article simply tells a story why one part of the world is ignorant of the reality. The whole world calls football – football. Period. We have FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), the FA, etc. We have major clubs called FC etc. Why would anyone in his/her right mind invent anything else? The answer is simple: ignorance about the ROW. The boring hand-egg game called football in the States is called American Football elsewhere among regular people. A – it’s not ball, it’s an egg. B-they play with feet only occasionally. Yes, players run on feet but so do players in handball, etc. Anyhow, it Football and deal with it. on a personal note, soccer sounds sick. Nobody calls New York a different name. Nobody gave a right to one country to tell the rest of the world how to call their favorite game. Period.

  • The oxford dictionary tells you all you need to know-soccer was the oxford-created term for ‘Association’ and ‘Football’. A team played sport with a spherical ball. So ‘association football’ is the original name-the word soccer was created afterwards by oxford uni a merge of both words for quick and easy short reference. The word soccer was likely used in oxford area public schools in the 1800s as a result and spread due to its addition to the oxford dictionary, but we now know it eventually faded out when the word ‘football’ was more obvious and to-the-point! African and Austalian television sometimes refer to the sport as soccer as well as football, but in the uk most people think of the word soccer as an american only term, as thats where its used the most. You’ll never catch the media using the word ‘soccer’ in any sports section of any newspaper or on television in the uk.

    I would probably annoy some americans equally if I constantly referred to american football as Gridiron, its original name. We argue that it borrows heavily from rugby (similar to baseball borrowing from the original rounders sport). The influence cannot be denied. As rugby is still played, this seems to stop gridiron from ever having a chance in being popular worldwide. If rugby decided to use far heavier gear and helmets for safety, and both ended up popular, there would be much confusion!

    quote from Tan June 24, 2010 at 9:12 am -“Did you know, the first FA cup final was between two schools?”……..

    I think that sums up most of the arguing thats going on in here-schoolboy talk over whos sport is better! LOL. Its no different to rugby fans and football fans arguing over whos sport is the most interesting. You can argue for hours about gridiron, a sport borrowing from rugby which known as a sport focusing mainly on use of the hands, yet calling itself foot-ball in the usa(?), or some gridiron fans calling soccer a less manly sport, despite being padded up to the max with a helmet for safety (compare that to rugby).. or you can argue against association football making little use of the hands and therefore less of the body. That could go on and on for hours.. but thats no reason not to appreciate both! In europe and the uk most mainstream channels will likely never show american football as long as rugby is around, but what would be wrong with enjoying them all?..

  • The picture of the Jabulani abomination is disgusting. Adidas ruined the last World Cup by introducing this monstrocity. Boycott Adidas. Boycott Jabulani: the worst ball in human history.

  • Australian Football was codified in 1858. The first game between two private schools played the same year.

    The game has always been known as football in Australia whilst soccer, being the 4th most popular sport in the country after Australian Rules, then League, then rugby.

    Trying to call the game “football” is simply confusing. Probably explains the dismal state of soccer.

  • @acmilanello Using New York is a bad example.
    New York (City, I’m assuming) has many names, including but not limited to, The Big Apple, Manhatten, The City that Never Sleeps, etc.
    Honestly if you think about it, saying to someone they are wrong about calling football “soccer”, is wrong and insulting. Its not like the sport is called something offensive or mean, just a alternate name.

  • As a French/American living in New York, I have no problem with Americans using the term soccer, especially after reading this article. The author seems to have done research, something that most of the Brits who constantly insult users of the term “soccer” have never done. And to acmilanello, Latin Americans refer to New York as Nueva York, so your metaphor is moot.

    • As an Englishman living in NY, I have to take issue with you over this…And sadly a lot of the opinions voiced here.

      Firstly, regarding differing names for New York. The other names are only nicknames and Manhattan is only one of the five boroughs for New York City (not state).

      The issue that seems to missed by most people is one of class. It was sometimes called “soccer” in schools back in the 60s, but even then it was a dying term in England. People used it in an effort to be “correct”, that is to be “posh” as “soccer” was what those at private schools (i.e. the rich – Private schools in the UK are ones where you pay to attend them) called it in the early days. The rest of the people called it “football”, as that was what children from non-fee-paying schools had called it in the early days.

      The argument came down to do you want it to be “the people’s game”, or like Rugby, considered to be a game of the rich or upper-class? It was settled in the early 1970s when almost everyone in Britain began to call it only football, even the rich or upper-class. If you liked, Rugby was for the posh, football for the people.

      It is right to say that calling it “soccer” is now seen as a slight in Britain by Americans who do not know the use of the word has changed. Britain having invented the modern version of the game that all world associations follow, they reserve the right to call it what they like and calling it “soccer” is now seen as old-fashioned and sadly ignorant. It is used by those who do not know the name effectively changed some forty years ago by popular usage and arguably much earlier by official nomenclature – “Football” being the adopted name in Associations and clubs long before the early 1970s.

      American football is American football – Being as they invented this version of the game, they also have the right to call it whatever they like!

      Very few countries call it “soccer” anymore, where it is, it is because it is in transition to being called “football”. While it is sometimes useful to be able to distinguish “non-American football” from “American football”, you should know that in most other places in the world, you will be judged for calling it “soccer”, even if it is still a synonym. At best you will be thought of as old-fashioned, at worst, you will be considered ignorant of the subject. The international governing body (FIFA) having chosen even in 1904 to call itself football and not soccer.

  • Odd. I’ve never heard of football being used in substitution for soccer. Those people are certainly backwards.

  • Not playing any side here, however, like it or not, I just happened to be reading old news paper articles (specifically, the 1945 May 9 Daily Mail and 1963 Nov 23 Daily Telegraph editions), and, in the ‘Sports Sections’, it clearly refers to ‘Soccer’, and, there is no mention of ‘football’ anywhere. So, for at least 20 years of the 20th century, Soccer was the name of the game. Comments?

  • Logic Fail.

    If Socer is shortened form of Association Football (says so in the sources themselves) the soccer couldn’t have appeared before Association Football. Unless it’s the first word to have a shortened form used before the actual long form…

    Check your own facts before writing the article.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @John: I see your “Logic Fail” and raise you a “Reading Fail”. ;-) Nowhere does it say Soccer came before “Association Football”. What it says is “…referred to as ‘Soccer’ preceded the first recorded instance of it being called by the singular word “Football” by about 18 years.”

  • First, those “sources” you say, how can i be certain that they are correct.
    Second, you only took the parts that were of use to you, but missing important data that was displayed in those websites. for example, “The word “football”, however, was more descriptive of the game (i.e. kicking a ball with the feet!) and was the term more frequently used”, among others.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @manuel: “football” was not more descriptive at that time as there were numerous relatively popular sports called such. Basically, any sport that was played on foot with a ball was called “football”, distinguished from sports played on horseback.

  • Nevertheless, American football is not a foot neither a ball. it is handegg. you need use your hands and the ball doesn’t look like a ball. it looks like an egg. this history lesson doesn’t work. Association football preceded soccer. because it was called football before it was called association football. Nice try though. most of the world now calls it football.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @aaa: Nearly all sports played on foot with a ball were once generically called “football”. The fact that a ball was handled mostly with your feet or hand didn’t really matter that much in terms of coming up with the generic name for the game.

    • @Nick
      But the name football stuck from the beginning because it was played on foot. It had nothing to do with HOW it was played but ON WHAT it was played. The name was given to it to differentiate it from Polo. I actually do love the name Tackleball, though.

      @shahin hyder
      Keep boasting your IGNORANCE. Oh, and see that link that says Expand for references and a small arrow right next to it?? Try clicking it.. see what happens, Idiot.

      • Hmm.. Not where it was supposed to show up… Sorry Daven… But if we are to comment on aaa’s stupid rant then here it is.

        Know that in the begining the ball actually looked more like a sphere than an “egg” (It’s actually called a Prolate spheroid) because forward passing didn’t exist until 1906. The season of 1905 had 19 fatalities. So calling it “start stop rugby with padding” is plain bullshit cause at first there were no paddings at all. But I digress. When forward pass came into the rulebook, the players had a rough time with the ball, so the new version of it – the Prolate spheroid – was introduced. And it did a magnificent job up to this day. Mind you that even with the helmets and paddings there are still alot of life endangering injuries. I recently saw a video of a reciever being tackled and as a result paralyzed for life except some limited motion in his right arm. Daryl something… poor soul.

      • I don’t really buy the “to differentiate it from polo” argument, for the reason that polo didn’t exist in England when football was named. There was also another sport in the era called handball, and I think it unlikely it was played by people doing handstands.

  • @aaa: A ball is not a geometric shape. Nothing says the ball has to be spherical.

  • I referred to it as soccer as a kid, we all did in the 70’s, we even have a program called soccer-am, so nothing wrong with using the slang term, as I see the problem is the refusal of the US to ever call it football. Also when some from the US says soccer, it usually takes them 4 times longer to say it than a brit – which also is very annoying.

  • your completely wrong about the first use of the word football in 1881, look at what the oldest football club in the world is called, no hint to the world association, it was called sheffield FOOTBALL club, not soccer, not association football

  • does show Sheffield FC founded in 1857. I agree with Imre’s comment about pronunciation. When I told an American I was a director of a local soccer club, I had to repeat it three more times before he shouted, “Oh! Suuuuuckerrrr!”

  • This blog post is factually incorrect and misleading.

    The word “football” was already in widespread use LONG BEFORE the author’s cited source.

    From Wikipedia:

    “The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) records that the first written use of the word football used to describe a game was in 1424 in an Act forbidding it. The first written use of the word football to describe the ball was 1486, and that the first use as a verb (hence footballing) was in 1599. Although the OED just indicates it is a compound of foot and ball, the 1486 definition indicates that a ball was of the essence of the game.”

    So, to clarify: the word football was the name given to the game for hundreds of years. But when the sons of the privileged classes at Rugby “public school” bastardized the game and thus created “rugby football”, they seized on the recent codification of the rules to distinguish between their sport and the widespread game already known as football. Since the rules were codified by a group of teams who called themselves the Football Association, these scions of privilege — who rarely deigned to play a game that was wildly popular with the “lower classes” — began referring to it as Association Football, whence the term “soccer’.

    The assertion that soccer was the game’s original name, and that football was an afterthought, is complete BS.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Sharkey: “The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) records that the first written use of the word football used to describe a game…” I didn’t say anything about the word “football” to describe “a game” not being around before Association Football came around. You should read the article again. We’re arguing two different things here.

  • It’s clear we all love the sport. It’s a waste of time to argue with someone that likes the same things you do.

  • USA should spend less time with NFL bs and get their REAL football team in shape for the next world cup. maybe if we ever won, everyone would forget about NFL and revert the name back to what the rest of the world calls it

    • that will NEVER happen. the US loves its football as in NFL football at both the college and professional level. i love both football (feet) and football (american) but nobody will ever forget about the NFL its part of our countries pastime. and no, the consideration of the Americans ever winning the world cup is a joke and we all know it

      • OK so The US winning a World cup is a long shot but lets not forget that the US finished above England in their group and Both the US and England were knocked out in the next round. SO the US has just about the same chance as England the country that invented the sport. We may call it Soccer as not to confuse it with NFL type football but the sport is fast becoming the number one youth sport played by more Kids then baseball or football (as girls play soccer also not as many play Baseball or football)

        The US women HAVE won a World cup Twice in fact.

        NO the US does not have a the TOP top players in out national team player pool or even a single player that is going to win the FIFA player of the year anytime soon but ether does England only David Beckham and Frank Lampard made it to Second place. But if you in the modern football era if you are to pick one country that produces the MOST top top rated players you have to go with Brazil with 8 FIFA players of the year winners. Other countries have had many great players but at the moment England’s national team is NOT as good as the English press likes to hype it to be. The EPL the top devision of English football is only 30-35% english players. And English players playing in top divisions outside of England is even lower. SO the English may have invented the sport but it is NOT the dominate force at developing top players. Which is pretty sad really. And if you do not want to believe a Yank take the word of Roy Hodgson the nation team manager’s word for it
        Compared to other top football nations in Europe and around the world England is falling behind at their own game.

  • I think the problem is your 2nd paragraph is poorly constructed and it’s therefore difficult for readers to understand your intent. I think you meant it to be an introductory paragraph (perhaps with your science background you are used to writing an abstract, which would be unnecessary in an article?) The language choice of “not only that” is strange considering you haven’t proven your first claim yet with research/proof. Also, I believe you have misused a verb tense with “this happening” otherwise it is an incomplete sentence. And then you start then next sentence in similar fashion “When that happened” but your use of “that” as a pronoun is confusing because your previous sentence was such a mess. I found I had to reread this second paragraph a few times to understand what you were trying to convey. I think you could have done away with the entire paragraph, since you never did explain which “upper echelons properly” called it soccer, you merely explained the nickname’s origin at Oxford by way of legend. And then you wouldn’t have repeated such vocabulary twice in a short article.

  • * the, not *then. apologies

  • @Daven For some people, it wouldn’t matter if it was written in stone, a thousand years ago, on display for everyone to see, if people don’t like the idea, there’re not going to accept it. There is nothing you can say or write to change that.

    @nmkvn Why spend less time with a real team that brings in a revenue of over 11 billion and more time with a wanna-be team that brings in a tenth of that? Just because you think the NFL is bs doesn’t mean the rest of the country should. The NFL is the #1 sport where Soccer ranks #5 in this country (or somewhere around there in revenue) It may be #1 in the world. Its just not #1 here. No big deal.

    And Susie, please, this isnt English 111. go critique somewhere else.

  • the dude who speaks of the sport it to bius cause american football didnt come until 1895 so america didnt have a sport called foot ball they copied rugby and football and made ruthb

  • Fun article. One thing about your facts at the end though. 1307-1327 was the reign of King Edward II, not King Edward I as the wording intimates. The first Edward was focused more on making laws that would draw revenue than laws that would limit people’s leisure activities.

  • An early reference to a ball game that was probably football comes from 1280 at Ulgham, Northumberland, England: “Henry… while playing at ball.. ran against David”.[3] Football was played in Ireland in 1308, with a documented reference to John McCrocan, a spectator at a “football game”

  • I just imagine that American Football, Soccer and Rugby are like 3 brothers, son of the same sport, “Mister Football” (that’s actually true, they are variations of the same sport). Some people may call Association Football by it’s nickname, “Soccer”, and some people call it by his family name, “Football”. Just like we do with people.
    So I suggest the people start calling American Football as “Mericcer”.

  • This is a lot of misinformation. Did you actually even read your sources? If anyone actually looked at the link in your sources for the etymology of soccer, they will see that the word was originally socca, a university slang for assoc. as in association… as in FOOTBALL association. The word became soccer in 1895.

  • @imre, Americans do call the sport “football.” As the article itself describes football is the genus of sport, and soccer is the slang for the specific type of football. Even here in America we have different types of football, such as Arena Football, etc. American gridiron football just happens to be the dominant form of football in the States, thus it gets the generic term applied to it. In most of the rest of the world, football describes the dominant type of football played there, which happens to be association football in most places, but in some places it could be gridiron football, or even Gaelic football. Whatever the dominant sport of the area is, it gets called football generically.

    But in the states in Major League Soccer, the teams have names such as Seattle Sounders Football Club, Football Club of Dallas, Toronto Football Club, etc. But because it’s not the dominant football here, people use the slang soccer to distinguish the sport.

  • The term football does predate soccer. Before the rules of the game were codified, “mob games” use to be played involving whole towns sometimes, while the rules were not the same as football, this game evolved into the football we know today.

  • I could really care less about Americans winning or not winning the world cup. Soccer isn’t even the most watched sport in the USA…the NFL is. If Soccer were, THEN I might care about us winning a world cup. But since it’s not, I could care less.

    Besides, when you are going to talk about worldwide sports, all that really matters are the Olympics…and we have, what, over 2500 medals total? That’s over 2 times as many medals as the 2nd place country (Russia) has won. If we really wanted to put together a good soccer team, we obviously have the athletes to do so if more Americans watched the sport.

    • - You care only about sport that you dominate
      – You reinvent your own language when you say without shame that Worlwide just means the US of A.
      – You talk about the number of medals without putting in context the size of your 48 states put together
      – You think that the number of medals does prove something
      – But only when that arrange you because you suck at soccer
      – You’re sure that you can, but don’t bother to put on a good man soccer team (you can’t actually, only retired players are interested in US leagues – Just like Qatar lol)
      – You think that US athletes have somewhat a particular gene that allow them to be good at anything they put their heart into

      You are a cliche.
      An absolutely fantastic cliche.

      Are you also fat ?

      • The United States has over 300 million people. If Soccer was the main sport of this country and attracted the best American athletes, by mere numbers and accidents of statistics the United States could field one of the most talented teams in the world instantaneously. It is not our preferred sport. Any argument of “the rest of the world likes it, you should too” is so asinine it is silly. You have your thing, and we have ours, go enjoy yours.

        • Actually, if America wanted to make a football team, they’d still not be any good at it. It takes talent and skill to be able to play football, what you common American morons don’t understand is that just because you may have a bunch of very fit people, doesn’t make them instantaneously good at something.

          • Why does it seem British people have an attitude towards Americans? …Is it because we whipped your butts in two major wars? lol. Jk. Oh boy… No really? Why?

          • bruh have yous seen some of the kids here play? alot of them are better than some on the national team easily…

      • This is a simple case of jealousy with uninformed statements thrown in as fact. Most likely posted by a teenager jealous of the United States. Sad, quite sad.

        • It is all biased as if you consider ALL the Nations in the world only a very few Have a realistic chance outside of a long shot and really good luck have much more then a long shot at winning a world cup. Including the Nation that invent the sport England remember the US finish above England in the group stage last time and both nations were knocked out at the same stage in the tournament. England has not won since 1966.

          They have never had a FiFA world player of the year winner (a few seconds and 3rd pace finalist) in the modern era. England has never won a European championship in the modern era or even made it to the final in a euro.

          AND MANY MANY people in the US DO play the sport and DO care about it in fact it is fast becoming the Number one Amateur sport (when you include both male and female leagues) More kids play Soccer then Baseball.

          It is only a mater of time the US WILL produce more and more players that will make it to top leagues around the world. As well as their own MLS teams getting better doing better every year in the Concacaf Club CL.

          At one time it would have been unheard of for the US national team to beat Mexico even on a home field with a US mexico match played anywhere near the boarder having more Mexican supporters then US. NOW we have won in Mexico at the Estadio Azteca.

          US Professional Soccer players are now becoming house hold names and few have become very well paid playing the sport. and THAT is what will bring top the money.

          Even in the recent past the Soccer career in the US ended at collage now US Youth players are going pro at High school age (like in other nations) and forgoing collage for Professional careers in the sport.

          It is going to take time but the sport Must grow from the bottom up NOT the top down. Like the NASL tried to do. I will go out on a Limb and say in 10 years the US will have a player playing at Real Madrid or Barca or ManU level club (not just as a Goal keeper) as Tim Howard did play for ManU.

          Before you can have a Top US national team you first need to have at least 60-70 top players playing at Top Club level to have a big enough player pool to pick 22 top players to have a winning national team. England have around 189 player in the EPL and their national team coach considers that not enough to have big enough player pool at the top level to be World Cup winners.

          US players have only been getting in to EPL First 11 teams for 10-12 years now and not many at that give it time. In 1970 Pele introduced a our nation to the sport it has taken 40 years to have a successful top full time professional league. Before that it was Simi pro and the failed NASL.

          But it is strong enough now that young boys grow up playing and with real life hero of the sport on their walls to look up to and Some are even US american internationals like Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan this next group of youth players is going to surprise many in the future it will take generations but the sport has come a long way in a relatively short time in this country

  • if you play ball with your foot
    its called Football

  • Further to the previous argument, and borne of the Olympic medal statistics, the US specialises at individual sports and is less competitive in top-level international team sports.
    I can only think of basketball, and that is very heavily weighted in their favour.
    Football is not a sport where might is right. The biggest countries are not the best. The countries with the most successful leagues are not the best.
    Although power has shifted and success has been defined a lot by specific generations, there are plenty of small countries who employ a certain philosophy and have been able to be consistently successful despite not having a large pool of players or a good domestic league. Immediately Uruguay and Holland spring to mind, as well as the Balkan countries. Even my own country, Ireland, have punched well above their weight, albeit not recently, considering it is a minority sport in a country of 4 million people with a crushingly mediocre domestic league.
    The US national team is improving at an impressive rate, but even if they gave up all other sports and concentrated on nothing else it would be a long time before they could compete at football’s top table.

  • @Pudsey, America is great at team sports internationally. The vast majority of our athletes specialize in football, baseball, and basketball. We dominate Basketball, There is no international football competition, and the World Baseball Classic in kind of a joke and most of America’s top players don’t play. Now can you imagine if America’s top athletes played soccer? A team with the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Adrian Peterson etc would certainly be among the world’s elite

  • Fisrt of all: americans? I´m from Argentina; Argentina is in America (BECAUSE AMERICA IS A CONTIENT), so I´m an american, and here we call it football.

    It doesn´t matter those explanations, it´s easier than that.

    FOOT BALL. USA football barely uses feet, so it´s not very intelligent to call it footbal. Would you call handball to ‘soccer’ just because the goalkeeper uses his hands?

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Emiliano: As stated in the article, nearly all sports played on feet with ball were once called football to distinguish them from sports played on horseback. Whether the ball was carried or kicked didn’t matter. Over time, the most popular football sport in certain regions became simply called “football” rather than, say, “Association Football”. In the United States, Association Football just isn’t anywhere close to the most popular.

  • Do I have this right: soccer is a word that was used by the middle-class and is now only used only by posh old gits and . . .
    etymology, fascinating zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    The fact is the word soccer is only used by Rugby hoorays in England and Americans who desperately need to nurture the myth that American Football has significance in world sport
    Football is Football, all other sports with the word football incorporated are pale shadows of the beautiful game.
    Get over it, enjoy your chosen sport, but give up the trying to understand Football.

    Football has Working Class roots (not lower class).
    Etymology, fascinating zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • The rest of the world calls it football in their own language so I don’t consider it. In the English speaking world – USA, Canada, UK, South Africa, Australia- Only one of those countries calls soccer football, the UK.
    Population of UK – 63 million
    Population of the rest – 423 million
    Get with it UK, its called soccer.

    • Annnnd the population of the rest of the world, calling the game “football” in their own languages.
      (If we are starting to do this “majority wins!!11!” -thing.)

      Population of USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia – 423 million
      Population of the rest of the world – 6 billion, 850 million.
      Get with it USA, its called football.

      • the rest of the world might call it football, but only one country cares about the name… and that country is….


  • @gtrogue – So you’re saying because 4 other countries call it ‘soccer’, that means the UK should? I think the country who invented the game that is now known as football/soccer should be able to call it whatever they like, don’t you? Also, you said ‘The rest of the world calls it football in their own language’. But you’re not considering it because they speak another language? That is a ridiculous thing to say. Ask any French, Spanish, German (etc) person who can speak English to tell you what they think Football is called, and you’ll hear your answer. In France, they call it football; in Latin America and Spain they call it fútbol. The Germans use a slight variation: Fußball or fooseball. (A popular game in America, ‘foosball’ is a loose transliteration of the German word “Fußball”, which itself means simply football, and is a ‘soccer’ based game (also called Table Football).)

    @Daven Hiskey and the article itself – This was actually a good read. Though it does make more sense to call it ‘football’, it is interesting to know that England came up with the term ‘soccer’ that is most commonly associated here in England with Americans. Maybe people wouldn’t complain so much if they knew this, though they probably will. All I know is, in England it is called Football, in America it is called Soccer, and there’s not really much wrong with that. Call it what you like, it’s still a good sport.

  • Well…I think you British say things weird. But, I don’t criticize and say your wrong. You pronounce and say things the way your culture states. I do according to mine.

  • This really is a UK thing. I don’t think any of the other countries care. British people are the only people that seem to be upset about it. The rest of us don’t care. Call it what you like, we all know what you’re talking about.

  • After reading those “Savage” comments and seeing news about all those British football hooligans (, I can see why they don’t call it “soccer.” When those drunken louts hear the word “soccer” they’ll likely as not turn around and slug the first woman they see. ;- )

  • Charles Wreford Brown is my grand-dad

  • Football is played with a ball, kicked with skill and never handled. The game uses a ball.
    Rugby, Gridiron, AFL and like games don’t use a ball, even though the dumb dumbs call the spheroid a ball.
    Australians call their game of running with a leather object, spheroid, in hand, footy. NRL is National Rugby League, and AFL is Australian Football League. AFL players can kick their leather object between two white posts with no top bar, at any height, and call it a goal. If between two smaller posts at each side of the bigger posts it’s called a ‘mark’, and scores a point. Football is British football, not soccer, never was soccer, FOOTBALL. Start calling the other games HANDBALL, what, too girly for the masochistic rugby and AFL bully-boys who have to HOLD the leather object to enable them to kick it in the right direction.

  • ‘Legend has it, in 1863 shortly after the creation of Association Football, Wredford-Brown had some friends who asked him if he’d come play a game of “Rugger”, to which he replied he preferred “Soccer”’

    Charles Wreford-Brown (who is generally considered to have coined the name ‘soccer’) was born in 1866. How could he have named the sport before he was even born?

    Nothing in this article is remotely true.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Nope: Exactly. This is why it’s a legend, and as with most of these historical anecdotes, these sorts of stories usually don’t add up, hence why I put the “legend” tag on it where most sites say that’s what happened.

      • Well it kind of makes a massive hole in your claim that soccer is an older term than football when the ‘football association’ (as in, an association for football – meaning they must have known the game simply as football) was founded three years before the man who coined the name soccer had even been born.

        • Daven Hiskey

          @Nope: You’re missing the point. He likely did not name soccer. The other documented instances of the name are, well, documented. We have the references and dates. The legend is just a story passed down which at some point someone wrote down.

          • But there are no references of the term soccer being used before the 1880s and football was clearly used on its own at least by 1863, and most likely earlier than that too!

  • The word “socker” was first used in 1892, then in 1894 (when “rugger” was compared to “socker”) 1895 when it was spelled “soccer” and 1899 when Socker was used without quote marks. In the anglo countries Association Football was called “Sock-er” and other variations, usually in quotes for another couple of decades

  • SomeOutsidersCan’tConcurEverlastingReality

    I was born in the North of England, we played football at school on the football pitch, as it was called. We had relatives who lived on the other side of the town, near the football ground, to indicate the direction. My father was a member of the local football club and my uncle played in the local football league. Most boys played football in the street, on any spare land and old bomb sites using any type of ball, i.e., tennis ball, basket ball. Football was played in winter, cricket was played in summer on the football ground. My favourite team is Manchester United, known as Manchester United Football Club which is is an English professional football club who have won many trophies in English and European football. All the main towns and cities in England and Scotland have a professional football club, e.g., Arsenal F.C., all with F.C. on the flag or badge or plaque meaning Football Club. I never, ever heard the word SOCCER used to describe football until I lived in Australia. This was because the Australian game was the Aussie god, ‘the footy’, using a leather-covered sphere which was kicked and caught in the hands, dropped onto the foot and kicked to the goal, or another team member, and is similar to Gaelic/Irish football, the difference being the use of a round object, a ball, not a sphere.
    The word soccer may be used by those who want others to understand they are referring to English Football, but the die-hard football players and world-wide followers will always call the game football. Soccer sounds like female boxing, and the word should be deleted, eliminated, burnt or otherwise destroyed.

    • All I heard was “blah blah blah blah blah blah blah”. A bunch of whining that the US and the world won’t conform to the term you use for Soccer. I liked your joke at the end though…”sock her” :D good stuff

      • Corey, despite what many Americans seem to think, the US is hardly “the world”. Many people outside the US and Canada call it football.

      • The Entire Population of Great Britain

        Except the majority of the world does call it football… Retarded inbred Americans (y)

    • In contrast, I grew up in western Pennsylvania, went to a school district that didn’t even have a football team of any type, and played the game you grew up with only once, for 30 minutes, in elementary school.

      I call it soccer, and I love it.

      Jeez, do the Australians have to put up with this abuse, too?

  • Thanks for the fascinating article. Although I have to say that reading all these comments has been almost as entertaining. It’s amazing how worked up people can get over this topic. Take a deep breath and turn the sports channel back on.

    By the way, I live in New Zealand and I call it soccer.

    • Some don’t watch the sports channel in Australia, there isn’t one on regular TV, any other system one has to pay, so better to visit a live game.
      New Zealand isn’t England and the favourite sport in NZ is rugby, so in your lingo you have to call football, soccer’.
      No-one is ‘getting worked up’, merely clarifying how different areas distinguish rugby, which has two codes for some weird reason, Australian Football League, which is nick-named ‘footy’ for another weird reason and American Football which is deadly that players have to wear a cage and padding.
      Enjoy your fush ind chups.

      • I really, really enjoyed you saying that no one is getting worked up immediately after you wrote “the word [soccer] should be deleted, eliminated, burnt or otherwise destroyed.”

        Because that is definitely in no way hyperbolic or insane. No getting worked up here. No sir.

  • Trying to justify why Americans catches and hold a “foot” ball by hand? Very poor education system for not distinguishing which are your feet and which are yours hands.

    Foot ball
    Hand ball.
    Lower class didn’t go to school or didn’t learn human anatomy?

    • Did you even bother to read the article before posting? Like honestly, did you read it AT ALL because he kind of explains why it’s called that in there. Before you attempt to insult other people make sure you have basic reading comprehension and maybe read about the topic you’re about to comment on.

  • What is funny is the name of the sport is “association football,” thus the singular “football” is just as much a nickname as “soccer.” Thus, people are getting mad that Americans use one nickname instead of the other…a nickname they didn’t even invent.

  • One things for sure, calling it Soccer sure annoys a lot of people. The game is called different things in different places, but if someone says Soccer everyone in the world that knows anything about “association football” knows what game their referring too, whether they like the name or not. If you say “football” at least 500 million people will think your talking about something other than “association football”. Of course as the OP demonstrated in the article the term soccer arose originally to differentiate “association football” from other games of football, just as soccer does today.

    So it seems to me that since EVERYONE knows what game soccer refers to, it is the correct name, even if it makes he English pee their pants.

  • as an american living abroad (brazil, no less), it is really tricky to chose a name. if i say “football”, everyone thinks i am referring to american football. if i say “soccer”, they think i am a foolish american who doesn’t know the correct word. so i have to say something preposterous, like “football, not american football, but the one you play here”.

  • This article makes no sense lol. First it says that soccer came first, and was later called association football; then it says that soccer came from an abbreviation of association football. I think i’m going to coin the phrase ‘chicken and egg journalism’ to describe this article. I even checked out your sources and they directly contradict some of what you’ve written in the article. So maybe I should just call this ‘facepalm journalism’ instead?

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Ash: You need to actually read the article, not skim. It says “preceded the first recorded instance of it being called by the singular word ‘Football’ by about 18 years.” And no where does it say it was called “Soccer” before “Association Football”.

  • Gustavo M. Lanata

    If you would have asked me I could have told you the word soccer came from Association Football. The word is most often used as a way of insulting the worlds game. By the way it is not only Brits who get sick of hearing the word soccer, most of the world does. The game is foot-to-ball and calling it by its correct name is not going to lessen the USA version of the game which is a beautiful game. I love the game and that does not stop me from calling Association Football by its true name. Oh, and by the way I come from a nation that has more than one football and we do not have a problem calling the worlds game by it true name–football and we do not get confused by having to use the same word for more than one game.

    • Another example of someone that didn’t read the article. It’s not called “football” because it’s “foot to ball” It’s called “football” because it’s played on foot versus on horse back. It’s a shame that people’s fingers are so busy that they can’t stop to read what’s written on the very same page that they’re posting on. Soccer was named Soccer before it was named “Football” Referring to it as “football” was essentially just slang and eventually became the more commonly used name. Call the American’s tradtionalists or whatever you like, it doesn’t matter. But the fact that the word “soccer” annoys you so much as you stated in your post speaks volumes about your temperament. All of the whining is what annoys me. As I’ve told the rest of the people that are like you that can’t bother reading the article and just want to whine…Soccer soccer soccer soccer soccer soccer soccer soccer soccer soccer soccer. That’s what we call it. Get used to it.

  • Don’t waist your time. This is about someone trying to justify the use of the word “soccer” when the vast majority of the world collectively use another. And possibly to also justify using “football” to describe that game played in plastic armor. Somehow it just doesn’t describe it accurately.

    Of all of the “Football” Federations in the world there are four that use the term “Soccer” in their title: Canada, the Virgin Islands, St Maarten, and the US. All other nations (and we’re talking hundreds) use “football”.

    It’s also amusing that with US domestic season-ending games and series like the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals the winners are dubbed “world champions”. Really? The winners of the biggest sporting competition, the FIFA (Federation Internationale de “Football” Association ) World Cup, are crowned true champions of the world because of the sports global reach.

    My point? Use what ever term makes you happy. Just try not to get upset when you have to further explain what you mean. There are far better things to do in this life.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Del: To be fair, do you really think there’s any other American Football, Basketball, or Baseball team in the world that can beat said top team in the NFL, NBA, and the MLB? Someday (perhaps soon in the latter two, particularly baseball), but not so much right now, and certainly not when something like the “World Series” was originally named. :-)

    • First of all, I’ve no idea why’re referring to someone’s “waist”. Secondly, this is an article meant to counter all of the people whining that the Americans call it Soccer. Simply put, just because everyone else calls it Football, doesn’t mean that we do as well. And lookie here, it was actually Soccer first. So shut up already. You can call it a “waist” of time, but that’s coming from a dude that very likely whines about that very thing and hates to be contradicted and proven wrong. Soccer soccer soccer soccer soccer soccer soccer soccer soccer soccer soccer. GET USED TO IT, IT IS NOT CHANGING.

  • Hats off to you, Mr. Hiskey. I love this game, and I love this article. I only have one quibble, and it’s just with one of the Bonus Facts. The U.S. Soccer Federation is an organization like the English FA. It isn’t a league, but a governing body, and it sanctions the several professional and amateur leagues in the U.S.

  • Excellent article. I hope it doesn’t get removed and could be a reference to all those stubborn soccer fans.

  • So, I’m actually pretty confused.

    You say in the article that “Not only that, but the sport being referred to as “Soccer” preceded the first recorded instance of it being called by the singular word “Football” by about 18 years…” (end of the second paragraph).

    In your own “Factoid” section, you note that both King Edward and Queen Elizabeth I made football illegal.

    I’m not entirely certain how you can claim that the name football wasn’t used until 1881, considering that Edward and Elizabeth both banned the game – and called it football when they banned it. Edward banned it in 1314, which I put as being 549 years before it was ever called “Soccer”.

    Now, you might say out that those proclamations weren’t written down. That might be true – I can’t find much detail on the banning of the game in England.

    What I can find detail on is the banning of the game in Scotland. James I, the King of Scotland, banned football in Scotland in 1424.

    Now, this only applied to Scotland, as the two monarchies weren’t united until the 1600s. (The countries weren’t formally joined for a while after that, but that’s besides the point).

    However, the 1424 Football Act was passed by the Parliament of Scotland. What’s important about this is that, because it was passed by the Parliament rather than just proclaimed, /the whole thing was written down/.

    Specifically, the Act says that “the King forbiddis that na man play at the fut ball under the payne of iiii d.”

    It’s written in a Scottish-style accent. To ‘clear it up a bit’, the Act would read that “The King forbiddes that any man play at the foot ball under the pain of being fined four pence”.

    There were later examples, of Acts written and passed to ban football. In each one, the game is named “football”.

    If you go to the Records of the Parliaments of Scotland site (, you can find them. The site isn’t linking properly for me, but hit Advanced Search, type the word “Football” in the search bar, and search.

    I’ve for four results coming up:
    the 1424 Act I mentioned;
    one in 1458, under James II (“… and that football and golf be utterly cried down and not used…”);
    one in 1471, under James III (“… and that football and golf be discontinued in the future”);
    and one more in 1491, under James IV (“And further, that football, golf, or other similar unprofitable sports are not to be played anywhere in the realm…”).

    So, I can’t give you a written source from England, but I can give you several from Scotland, dating to around four full centuries before Charles Wredford Brown sauntered onto the field.

    What confuses me is that you all but acknowledge this with your factoid section, and /still/ say that the word soccer came before football.

    I’m not arguing that the British didn’t invent the word. We did. Most words in English come from England (not a jab, just a fact).

    My two cents on the names of the two games. You’re welcome to use the term “football” for what most of the world calls American football. But in the end, language ultimately, as Wittgenstein said, just a game, and the rules of that game are decided by the majority.

    Until you can convince the rest of the world to call American football “Football”, and change football to “soccer”, you’re probably going to get the occasional funny look.

    And, in case anyone thinks I’m complaining. I am, but not about the names. I really, really don’t care what people call either game, as I don’t care about sports.

    I care about accuracy. This article seems to contradict itself, and doesn’t seem to agree with the sources I can find.


    • As he explained, “football” was any game that wasn’t played on horseback. Be it soccer, football, rugby or whatever games that are concocted. So if the monarchs did indeed say “football”, it was a generalization, not specifying soccer itself. And I believe this author uses the term “football” as is most commonly used, instead of soccer. Soccer was simply the first name used, obviously not the most common TODAY. And it’s worth noting that he is writing this article TODAY versus in 1642. Comprendo?

      • Yep, I do “comprendo”, muchas gracias.

        I think my point still stands. I read the article, and noted – with interest – the point about foot-versus-horse sports. I hadn’t heard that before, and it was interesting.

        The reason I still have a problem is due to the wording of the 1491 Act banning football. f you read my comment again, and notice the short section of the 1491 Act, it says (further abridged here) “… that football, golf, /or other similar unprofitable sports/ are not to be played…”

        Now, I don’t know how to bold the text, so I tried to add a stress thing without capitals. It seemed rude to caps it.

        But anyway. If “football” was really just “all sports played on foot, with a ball”, then I don’t think they would have needed to specify the “other similar unprofitable sports”. It’s the “similar” bit that gets me – the games that are most similar to football (soccer) would be covered by the term “football”, if it truly meant what the article suggests. Unless you can suggest a game that is similar to football, but that isn’t played on foot?

        (As a side-note: Wikipedia mentions a quote from Derek Baker’s England in the Later Middle Ages, where Edward III of England passed a law in 1363 banning “handball, football, or hockey…”. So, either hockey used to be played on horses, or again, this might hint that the English language started to differentiate the word football earlier than the 1800s.)

        That makes me think that football was the term for all foot-based ball sports, in the earlier days, but by the end of the 1400s, it was beginning to mean one specific sport – which is now know as football, or soccer.

        The other thing that occurs to me is this: if football was a general term for all sports played on foot and involving balls… how did people know what to play?

        To illustrate the point: when I’m at the pub and buy a friend a drink, he doesn’t tell me to “get him a beer”. The pub has a wide selection of beers, numbering in the dozens, if not hundreds. My friend will usually ask for a specific type of beer (“bitter”) or a brand.

        I find it difficult to believe that there was an association governing the sport of soccer in the 1500s. England didn’t have an army, Government was haphazard, and private business interests great. How would an organisation be expected to govern a sport in a country with not postal service and a literacy of maybe 30% amongst men?

        So, if there’s no association, the name soccer isn’t likely. And then, what do you call your sport? If football is an umbrella term for many sports, then you can’t say to your friends, “Let’s play a lover-lee game of football, chaps!”. So, what did people call it before the associations? And why has that named disappeared from history?

        The fact that I’ve never heard of any names for football other than football and soccer makes me think that the term “football” became associated with a single sport earlier than the article might suggest.

        The wealthy wouldn’t have played the game until later, by which time the associations could exist, and so they’d call it soccer. In the mean time, I suspect that the dirty peasants called it football (and I wouldn’t be surprised if they called it football for the reason most people assume – namely, “foot” + “ball” = football).

        While the article raises interesting points, I’m just not convinced that the name “soccer” was more common early on. Both words are English, but I suspect that the commoners always called football football, and it was only the toffs who ever called it soccer.

        My point in commenting on the American usage of the term soccer was meant as a commentary on the various arguments going on in the comment sections. I don’t understand why anyone cares that the US uses a different term.

        The funny-looks comments was really just meant to say… well. You use a different term to almost everyone in the world. It’s slightly eccentric, and it will come across as strange. But whatever – as I said, it doesn’t seem that important.

        Finally, I’m well aware that the article is modern, and not written in 1642. I’m not really sure what point you’re making there.

        Anyway. Tenga un dia bueno.

        • I would be careful about using Wikipedia as an authoritative source. Anyone can put anything up there. We have no idea what sports were like in medieval times. The sport called either “soccer,” “football,” “calico” or what have you definitely did not exist in its present form in 1400. It was codified only in 1863.

          • I would be careful about using Wikipedia as an authoritative source. Anyone can put anything up there. We have no idea what sports were like in medieval times. The sport called either “soccer,” “football,” “calico” or what have you definitely did not exist in its present form in 1400. It was codified only in 1863.

            My first comment was far more in depth, and I searched through the various acts listed on the Records of the Scottish Parliament site. Those quotes specifically mention football and golf.

            The counter-argument was that all sports played on foot (rather than on horse-back) were call football. So by that logic, golf used to be played on horse-back. The Wikipedia thing was just another quote that supported my point. I know it’s not the best source, but it was a quote take from a book; when there are footnotes, it tends to be more reliable.

            There is a poem called Sir Hugh and the Jew’s Daughter, which begins with a description of a game like football. Sir Hugh “kicked the ball with his right foot”, and “Catch’d it with his knee”. The poem was probably written in the 13th century – certainly before 1290, as the Jews were expelled from Britain then. Not much point writing propaganda poems against people you’ve already forced to leave. (Plus, there was an accusation of a blood libel in 1255, which could have inspired the poem).

            There is also Francis Willughby’s Book of Sports, which I’ve seen (but don’t have a copy handy). That has a description of a game of football. There’s a drawing in there too, if I remember.

            While I admit, the game might only have been codified in the 1863, it existed before then, and it was similar enough by the 1500 or1600s that a modern audience would know what they were playing.

            But the main reason I wrote my original comment was to point out the problem in the article. They say that the game was called soccer in 1863, and first called football in 1881. So, what was it called before?

            The game was definitely played before the 1800s. Not in exactly the same way, but close enough to recognize it. So, what was it called?

            Books and laws would suggest it was called football, so the original article would be wrong. And if the article isn’t wrong, I’d be curious to know what the game was really called until 1863.

          • @Hansl

            The game didn’t exist in it’s form today before 1863. 1863 was the year when they coined the phrase “Association Football” to distinguish it from all other Footballs out there. A game where 11 players on each team would use their feet only to advance the ball and kick it inside a frame. That’s it. All other mentions of the name football prior 1863 were to other sports that were played on foot, some of them are today’s American Football, Rugby Football and so on… Golf was just a sport that had a unique name given to it, and it stuck. That’s why it was mentioned. I’m pretty sure it’s an american sport as well, do correct me if I’m wrong though.

            Now that’s not to say that SOME english-men did still use the word Football alone to refer to Association Football before 1863 when it was officially named thusly. But it also doesn’t mean that soccer isn’t an official name for it as well. Just because the brits decided to gradually use it less because they were offended by Americans having a more popular sport named Football in their country, doesn’t make soccer a less valid word.

            In conclusion, Soccer is a British word, devised to shorten the official term “Association Football” to make it more people friendly, and the word is still used throughout the world today, even though some countries refuse to simply admit it, and realize that American Football is also a very real an intense sport, and it lives up to the name completely.

  • I think we should follow the example from the land of the free. They are as they say a “democracy”the largest in the world . Based on the rules of democracy and seeing that unlike many American sports this is a true world sport, we should put it to the world vote .
    I think that this would clearly show that the American term is a minority .
    Now this maybe a very large pill for them to swallow but it is would be the act of a true democracy
    American football is named accordingly,as it’s there own version of what they call football .
    Only they can explain why on earth it was called football when they throw it . But even they can see it’s not a world sport.
    Only 150 million global viewers in comparison to 4.2 billion global viewers by the British premier league .

    This is very similar to something called the World Series that is pretty much only played in the US

    I am really not sure why the leading power in the world feels the need to reaffirm it’s self so much when in clearly is number one
    Humility could be a better word for them to focus on

    • What are you babbling about? It’s called Soccer in the US, get used to it. Are you suggesting that the world should vote on what the Americans call the sport? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. People are freagin moronic when it comes to that. All of your babbling about humility and such while you’re trying to cram something down our throats is just silly. We call it soccer, get over it already.

      • Yes, Corey. Americans do call it “soccer” (sAA kEERR as they pronounce it, because they can’t pronounce that kind of English O sound). That makes them a minority in the world where most people call it by its English name, FOOTBALL.

    • And lord, why do people make comments without reading the articles? This guy clearly explained that “Football” is any game played on the feet versus on Horseback. That’s where the names come from. Soccer was not named “football” because they kick the ball, it’s a name that separates it from Equestrian sports. Horseback and Football. Basketball would be considered “Football” by those standard.

  • Association football is named after the football association. Why would they have a football association if they didn’t just know it as football? You need to check your facts. You’re wrong on your dates too, soccer was not first used in 1863, it wasn’t used until the 1880s. 1863 is when the football association was founded.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @wat: “Why would they have a football association if they didn’t just know it as football?” If you’d read the article, you’d know that it was to distinguish it from the other forms of football. “Football” at the time was a generic term for many sports played on foot. “Association Football” was then a specific type of football, as explained in the article.

      • ‘“Football” at the time was a generic term for many sports played on foot’

        There is no evidence for this. It is an alternative, unaccepted theory that is not supported by the facts.

        And once again. Football Association. Every city in England had its own rules so they met in 1863 to come up with a definitive version. There were no other codes of football in THE Football Association so once again: Why would they call it the football association if they didn’t know it only as football? The name association football came AFTER the football association, so it is impossible for them not to have called it football before they called it soccer.

        And you need to check. Your. Own. Sources.

        ‘soccer (n.) Look up soccer at
        1889, socca, later socker (1891), soccer (1895),’

        Football association founded in 1863, soccer first documented in 1889. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that you presumably read ‘soccer was founded in 1863′ and based this entire article off of your own misunderstanding.

        • “There is no evidence for this”

          Yes there is. Rugby Football, and the likes. It says so in the damn source you posted which was originally Daven’s source.

          “Why would they call it the football association if they didn’t know it only as football?”

          The FA was named so after Association Football and vice versa. Why is it so hard to grasp???? Where did the SOCC come from if not from Assoiciation Football? Just grow up already.. sheesh.

          “There were no other codes of football in THE Football Association”

          AGAIN! RUGBY and the likes! jeezzz…

          • The football association was formed in an attempt to create a single version of the various games of football being played at the time. There was no game called “association football” before the FA formed.

            It’s also ridiculous to suggest Association Football was never called just football until 1881. There are countless contemporary examples in newspaper reports of it happening way before that. Just look up any one.

            For example, I have a book on the history of Reading FC, formed in 1871/72, and excepts from early match reports talk clearly of “foot-ball”, with no mention of “Association”, and certainly no mention of soccer.

            The term soccer itself was widely used in the past. It owes its lack of popularity in the UK to the NASL, where cheesy and gimmicky attempts to reinvent the game for an American audience lent the word a disneyfied lack of credibility, from which it never recovered.

            It’s only generally used either for alliteration in tv show titles, or by upper class types, usually dismissive of the sport – which further erodes popularity.

  • The fact that hundreds of millions of third-world imbeciles love this mindless boring game is just additional proof that it does, indeed, suck- So I don’t see it ever becoming popular here in the states.

    Let’s have a look at American Football shall we?

    NFL Football is a complex undertaking involving offensive and defensive formations where individual players must make instant “reads” and adjustments. This takes not only incredible physical skills, but brains as well.

    At the opposite end of the spectrum dwells soccer, a minimalist game in every sense of the term – kick ball, run, stand, watch, run, kick ball, stand – on and on and on ad nauseam.
    It takes absolutely no brains, recognition, or hand-eye coordination to play, and it is therefore ideally suited to nitwit euros and the slovenly illiterate primitives of South America, Africa and the Middle East where it is popular.

    If you would care to offer any evidence to the contrary, I would be happy to educate you.


  • Did no one se the inconsistency in the beginning of the article? I quote ” “Soccer” preceded the first recorded instance of it being called by the singular word “Football” by about 18 years” So “Soccer” predates the term football by 18 years correct? Then how could the next paragraph about “Soccer” being the shorter version of “Association Football” Possible be true? “Now British school boys of the day liked to nickname everything, which is still somewhat common. They also liked to add the ending “er” to these nicknames. Thus Rugby was, at that time, popularly called “Rugger”. Association Football was then much better known as “Assoccer”, which quickly just became “Soccer” and sometimes “Soccer Football”.” I call BS. If soccer predates Football, then how could it have come about as a shortening of a term that contains “Football” ? Clearly Football predates “Soccer” and “Soccer” is the slang term as it was derived from a shortening of the term “Association Football”.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Sean M: “Then how could the next paragraph about ‘Soccer’ being the shorter version of ‘Association Football'” The word “singular” is key there and shouldn’t be ignored, as in without “Association” preceding it, which is the entire point. “Association” was used to distinguish it from other types of football. At first, had people just said “football,” no one would have known which football they were talking about. There was no such problem with “Association Football” or “Assoccer” or “Soccer.”

  • very interesting article. I do understand where legitimate English people (meaning people from England) might get offended by a different use of the English language. I think it needs to be mentioned that English itself is a corruption of Germanic languages (with a significant influence from romance languages) and Germans today might say that your just mispronouncing proper German. Taking this into account along with the fact that America (300,000,000) has the largest population of any one country in the ‘english’ speaking world (England is #5, with 60,000,000) you must understand — Just ’cause yo name on it don’ mean you own it biotch. lol. You guys are awesome England you keep doing what your doing. an we be doin’ what we be doin’.

  • @joe. No education is necessary for educated people. Rugby is not at all about intelligent moves, it is all about legal thuggery and wrestling a player to the ground because he has a leather, egg-shaped object in his possession.
    If the person holding the object is able to run fast enough he can approach a white line drawn on the ground, take a flying leap over the line, imitating a badly-landing aeroplane, bash the object on the ground and it is only a try, so what then, try, try try again without much success in achieving a final ending.
    The real football, football, as named for playing a ball game without hands, except for the goalie takes accuracy with footwork, split second decisions to place a ball shaped leather object in a small space in relativity to the playing field which is protected by a person who can move almost as fast as the ball being kicked with great velocity.
    Football is the second most watched world sport, second only to the Tour de France, and I would advise you Joe to keep your mouth closed in any country whose prime sport is football.

  • Something else to keep in mind is that it isn’t as if British English (or should I say “English English” as opposed to Scottish English) is any “purer” than American English. Both evolved from a common source (the English of the 17th century) and both have diverged from it. In some cases American English has changed less than British English. The English used to articulate the Rs in words the way most Americans still do, and they used to call autumn “fall” the way most Americans still do. So perhaps it isn’t surprising that Americans kept the term “soccer.”

    • KPOM, a slight problem with your idea. Americans could not have “kept” the term “soccer” because it was not part of the English language of the 17th century.

  • I want to like soccer but I still don’t because of diving and cheating pro players who attempt to act at every instant. Look at the Italian guy who got bitten by Suarez. The bite to his shoulder somehow caused him to drop like he’d been sniped with a gun. Seconds later he’s back on his feet….why? Because Suarez bit his shoulder not his bloody Achilles Tendon!!

    Until (mainly European and South American) players stop their diving acting crap, I will continuously be frustrated by soccer. AFL (Aussie Rules) is my sport. A sport where the rules don’t allow for faking /diving.

    FIFA live video referee review pls!

  • The correct word is FOOTBALL. All the great countries call is Football cause it is as the word. Which makes more sense than the stupid game they play like buffoons in a crazy wrestling match. FOOTBALL is the greatest game of the world…no doubt there. Great countries like the South Americans and Europeans are the best. I think the US Americans want a part of this game that they barely know off to and cnt evn comprehend thoroughly. And pbly want to justify their name soccer. Ohh please!!! Half of their team in the world cup imported from the Europe ect. And due note…..Proper English stemmed from the UK and half of the words the US use not even close. BTW I am from the Caribbean….So dnt even class me cause everyone wants to dream vacation here anyhow…LOL

  • Can’t we all just get along?

    This link pretty much sums it up. No accusations of taxation without representation, no tea parties, no long white wigs being worn. Just two countries looking for a name to call a sport that just happens to not coincide with the name of another sport. Who cares if its two different names for two different reasons.

  • American “football” is just Rugby with padding. The name football is far more prevalent with “soccer” than rugby where people carry the ball most the time.

    In Football you’re only allowed to move the ball with your feet most of the time… so if anything from a logical standpoint, it is rightfully called Football.

  • American “football” should be called Carryball… because that’s what they mostly do. They carry the ball most of the time.

  • sosherfan: “So if soccer is a shortening from ‘Association Football’, why don’t we pronounce it ‘sosh-er’?”
    Ben: “Because it’s not ‘assoshiation’.”
    What is it than, Assokiation?

  • You have to wonder if it matters anymore. I mean its fairly established now. Eventually the U.S. is gonna start using the term, football, in place of soccer as well. But the new term ‘American Football’ will be used to distinguish it from ‘soccer’.

    • No. “Football” is established in U.S. usage as American football, which is the most popular spectator sport here. The name of the sport is not going to change.

      There’s nothing wrong with the word “soccer.” I don’t know why British people have a problem with it. It’s just a name, guys.

  • Speaker of American

    Dear Mr. John Savage Tomakin,

    You accuse the Yanks of speaking “American” at an “eighth-grade level at best” and yet you commit rather basic grammatical errors such as (and I quote) “the universality of it’s useage” and other examples in which you–how did you say it?–“unwittingly mangled the English language.” You are clearly a pompous fool and and an ass and, by Jove, I dare say you deserve the loss of your empire.

  • Stating that the first documented use of the singular term “football” to refer to association football was in 1881 is wrong. The first documented use was right back at the beginning in 1863 with the formation of the Football Association – note the name! They called the sport they were codifying “football” – the name “Association” was only applied as a qualifier afterwards, from the name of the organisation. After all, they didn’t call themselves the “Association Football Association” did they!

  • Most people around the world get a great understanding of the person who uses the word soccer. It football. Besides all the facts and history it’s simple logic. USA likes to be different than others which can b good and also ignorant however u choose to c it. I mean after all they don’t use the metric system as most other countries do. But that’s a whole other subject. American Football is more popular because mad money goes into it, considering the whole actual play time of the game is 20 mins and the rest money sucking advertisement. Again it’s basic logic that’s all. It’s played by foot so it’s really simple The game is beyond the name tho and it’s too bad some people are ignorant into not understanding such a wonderful game that’s beyond a pastime. Not until they understand the soul of the game will they be convinced that it’s the real football

    • The world isn’t as rational as you make it out to be. To avoid abuse, just skip down to my fourth point.
      FIRST: Americans didn’t just start calling it “soccer” to be different. That’s not how language works. “Soccer” was an old word for the game and it stuck.
      SECOND: American football has a lot of money behind it if all you discuss is the NFL. Almost every college has a gridiron football team, too. And they’re popular in the states for different reasons.
      THIRD (and proof you didn’t read the article): Both games are “football” because they’re played on foot, not on horseback.
      FOURTH: You are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT that most Americans don’t understand the soul of the game. I love the game, and I get it, though it took me months to get my head around it. And just so you know, I’m also fond of our native sport, being born and raised in the heart of the Steeler Nation.

    • Are you aware that Canada, Australia and New Zealand also call the sport “soccer”? This isn’t an American/British thing. Many English-speakers around the world call it “soccer”. It has nothing to do with “wanting to be different” but rather, that all of these countries have a domestic sport called “football,” so association football needs to be called something else.

  • I too used to cringe at the use of the word soccer until I read that in fact it was an English word, as previous commentary, and that the football association was formed of soccer clubs. The question I would like to know is what is the linguistic origin of the word Soccer. And apologies if it is in previous commentary, I skipped f4rom June 2010 to the present day as most of the commentary was getting insulting.

  • the only BS in the article would the fact that early forms of “football” were played in Japan in 1000BC. Football or Soccer is just about kicking something round otherwise we could argue that stone age people invented it by kicking ball shaped rocks :). it only counts in the form and rules closely as it is played today. its like that myth that pizza was invented in China because Marco Polo saw how they made Chinese pancakes and then brought the recipe to Italy lol. the modern day pizza as we eat today has in fact nothing to do with China and it has Napolitanian origins of no earlier than 18th century, in the form as it is.

  • It is called “Soccer” in USA but “Football” by the other american countries.

  • I repeat, where are the sources? I didn’t your garbage, No thanks. It is still football!

  • To be fair to my snobbish Brit friends, I’m American, and I always felt the naming of football (American) to be relatively stupid. Sure, you can punt and kick field goals, but that’s not the main mechanism of scoring. Tackleball and gridiron both sound cooler and more accurate.

  • I have read the above responses with a smile! I’m from South Wales, United Kingdom. Here it is the codified rugby rules of football that originally took off in the late nineteenth century and became most popular and followed successfully later by the association rules. Previously there were rambling no holds barred games of ‘football’ between two neighbouring villages where the ‘ball’ would be carried and kicked etc.
    It is obvious to me that whatever ‘football’ rules that were originally taken up and played in your region then that game would be known as playing ‘football’. If that was using the association rules, a large part of industrial England, then association rules would be your football. In my area I played ‘football’ i.e. rugby – the rugby football club was founded in 1897, and to all of us particularly the older folk, rugby is our ‘football’. To differentiate the two games when the association football club set up in only 1972 ,their game is known around here as ‘soccer’.
    It is not an American/British thing – FACT! :-)

  • I’m South African and I’ve never known football to refer to anything else other than soccer. You said in the last paragraph that South Africa had its own sport called football. What was it?

  • Love it. I can’t wait until a British person asks me again why Americans call it soccer. I will say, “It’s a British term. How did you guys come up with such a silly name?”
    I also find it interesting that when it comes to overall numbers in English speaking countries, there are more English speakers that call it soccer rather than football. First British invented the term, didn’t stick with it and chose something else, while other English speaking nations stuck with tradition. If anything, people in the UK should be the ones calling it soccer to join the rest of us purest.

  • I’m loving that there are so many English posters here pretty much pissing themselves to learn that the American usage is the one that actually conserves tradition.

  • Spanish speaking countries do not call soccer “football”; they call it “fútbol”. That does NOT translate to “foot” and “ball”. While “bol” is close to “bola”, which is a word for “ball’, that is just coincidence in this case. “Fut” has absolutely no meaning in Spanish. They just took the word they heard the British use, and spoke/spelled it to fit their tongue. They certainly do not think of “foot” being a part of the word they use. Nothing at all wrong with that.

    Languages change, new ones are formed, new dialects appear, new words are created or introduced, accents form, etc. All of this happens with the passage of time and as groups of people come or go or stay within regions. Big deal. I would that ye might answer: Why speakest thou not the English spoken in the KJV of the Bible? Because your language has changed (and is still changing). Nothing at all wrong with that.

    I love soccer and have played it and watched it my whole life. I say soccer (not “football”) and football (not “American football”) and truck (not “lorry”) and French fries (not “chips”), etc. Because I am an American living in America. That’s all. No conspiracy to prop up the NFL, no slight against your football (it’s my favorite sport), etc. It’s just a part of my language.

    Surely none of you are so insecure or haughty or ignorant or egocentric to think that one country has to change its language just to please you? When I’m in Chile or Argentina or Mexico or Costa Rica, I will remember to say “fútbol”. When I’m in England or Ireland I will try to remember to say “football”, but it will be tough since our languages are so similar. And when you are in America, please try to remember to say “soccer”. Otherwise, we might not know what you are talking about.

  • As an Aussie who lived in England for a time as boy, I’ll throw my two cents in here, along with all the others – we should be racking up a fortune in the completely useless mad debate stakes by now – as it’s only very recent that the soccer media, then officials of soccer, and some hardcore fans (and there aren’t that many of them) in Australia have started calling it football.

    First up, the game played mostly with the feet was once called soccer in the UK . . . and football.

    The argument in this story is mostly correct: It comes from association football, to differentiate it from rugby. Now, in the UK, just to confuse the issue, there are two codes of rugby: rugby (15-man game) and rugby league (13). The evolution of speech being what it is, Association Football is now known in Britain almost exclusively as football; rugby football is now rugby; and rugby league is, well, roogby league given that it’s played mostly oop noorth.

    Now, on to Australia, as I can’t speak for those in the US or Canada, but the parlells are obvious: Most Aussies still call it soccer, and it’s the fourth most popular winter ball sport on the island continent (despite the fact it’s played in summer in Oz to get bigger TV audiences as it simply can’t compete with the others in terms of sponsorship dollars and week-to-week audiences over winter).While it has high participation rates among very young players, this tends to dissipate at high-school level, when many kids go on to play Australian Football, rugby and rugby league.

    Australian football (18 players, 150m oval ground) is the main winter sport in the southern and western states and is almost universally known in those states as FOOTBALL.

    In the eastern states, rugby league and rugby are the major winter ball sports, and both of these are also universally known in those states (Queensland, New South Wales and the A.C.T) as FOOTBALL.

    Soccer is NOT universally known in this country as football, despite what some imported pommy (British) media types and the ruling body of soccer in Australia would have us believe or would want us to believe.

    Other games in this country are known to the vast majority of people in this country as football, while soccer is only known to a very vocal minority of soccer lovers in Australia as football.

    It’s an artificial construct that has become confusing and politically correct, but just because a few try-hards want to change the name doesn’t mean that it washes with the rest of us.

    I have no problem calling it football, BTW, it’s just that when other games are more popular and are also known as football, maybe, just maybe, they are the ones who deserve to keep the popular title.

    Who cares what it’s called, anyhow. We all know what it is, despite the name. It’s 22 blokes booting a bag of wind up and down a field in the forlorn hope someone might score a goal, the same as the other football games are 18, or 15, or 13 blokes moving a bag of wind up and down a field in the same hope they might kick a goal or score a try.

    If the Poles, Greeks, Poms or Callathumpians want to call it football, and Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders and Australians want to call something else football, who really gives a rat’s?

    In the great scheme of things, how important is it?? A: Not that important at all.

  • “Soccer” is one of the few words, in which c followed by e is pronounced [k]. Others are recce (military slang for reconnaissance) and arced, arcing.

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