Soccer or Football: What’s the Correct Name for the Sport?

The terms soccer and football are used in different parts of the world to refer to the same game. While this may seem confusing, there are good reasons behind it. Soccer, or variations of the word in different languages, is less frequently used than the term football or its various translations. In this post, we explore whether football or soccer is the correct name for the sport.

What is the difference between soccer and football?

Both soccer and football refer to the game, which is technically known as Association Football. Because of this, the shortened term football, or its various translations, is more frequently used. Countries where the term soccer is in use, have another game known as football. They use the term to avoid confusion. 

The sport for which the terms soccer and football are used is played all over the world. Countries have their leagues, and there are also some international tournaments such as the European Championships and the World Cup. The game’s standard version involves two teams competing against one another in a 90-minute match, split into two 45-minute halves. 

There are 17 basic soccer or football rules, and teams start with 11 players on each side. One of the players is the designated goalkeeper. The aim of the game is to score more goals than the other team. They achieve this by kicking the ball into the opposing team’s net. 

The term ‘football’ is used because players must kick the ball and not use their hands. There are some exceptions to this, which cover the goalkeepers, and throw-ins

Which Countries Call It Soccer?

The term soccer is used in fewer than ten countries worldwide. Among them are the United States and Canada. To make things more confusing, some countries use both terms for the sport. For example, this is the case in Australia and Ireland. 

In Australia, the national body for soccer is the Football Federation of Australia. However, most Australians refer to the game as soccer because there are other football versions in Australia, such as rugby and Australian Rules Football. 

In Ireland, the use of the word soccer is declining but is still common in areas where other forms of football are played regularly. They use the term football interchangeably to refer to Gaelic football or association football. 

In Japan, a variation of soccer is used, which is ‘sakkā.’ This term was used because of the American influence around the Second World War. Despite the popularity of the word ‘sakkā,’ Japan’s federation for the sport is called the Japan Football Association. 

Even though soccer is used in fewer places than football, people everywhere commonly understand that soccer refers to the same game as football. 

Is Soccer American English?

Many people assume that the word soccer is an Americanism since the game of football originated in Britain. However, this is not true. The phrase soccer, like the sport itself, originated in Britain. In the early 1800s, the medieval game of football began to evolve. People started playing different versions of the sport. 

These different versions were categorized with various names to standardize the language used to describe the sports. The version in which players used their hands became known as ‘rugby football,’ while the other version was termed ‘association football.’ Ruby football was then shortened to ‘rugger,’ while association football became known as ‘assoccer’ and later ‘soccer.’ Over the years, the word soccer has become less widely used in Britain. 

Why is Association Football Known as Soccer in the US?

In the early 1900s, a new version of the sport was invented in the US. The new sport became known as ‘football.’ American football borrowed elements from rugby football and association football. This sport quickly became extremely popular in the US. The British term for association football – soccer – was adopted for this variant of the game, and it has stuck ever since. 

Why is the Term Soccer No Longer Used in Britain?

The term soccer was still in use in Britain until a few decades ago when its use began to decline. The terms soccer and football were used interchangeably in Britain until the 1980s. 

It is thought that the decline of the use of the word soccer in Britain was a reaction against its increased use in the US. This occurred around 1980 alongside the highpoint of the North American Soccer League (NASL). Furthermore, this gave the term soccer American connotations, and studies have shown the word declined in British publications at this time. 

How Popular is Soccer?

The game of soccer is played in over 200 countries, and there are more than 250 million official soccer players. It is arguably the most popular game globally, with the biggest participation in the world. There are over a billion people who play soccer regularly, at all levels and as a hobby. 

All age groups enjoy the sport, and there are youth leagues in many countries. Players of all genders enjoy the game. More people have traditionally followed the high-level male competition, but the women’s game is growing in popularity and participation. 

Is Soccer of Football the Correct Name for the Sport?

Now you understand some of the sport’s history and the names used for it, but you may still be wondering which is the correct term to use. As we have seen, neither the term soccer nor football was the first term used for the sport. Neither is it a case of English versus American English terminology since both terms are British in origin. 

The term football is closer to association football’s original name, while soccer is a derivative of the word association. Neither term is more correct, even though football is more common. It makes sense for countries with different football versions to use the term soccer as this avoids confusion. 

Whatever you choose to call the sport, the most important thing is the enjoyment of the game. Let’s not get caught up in semantics; soccer – or football – is so popular that we all know what is meant by either word when used.