Soccer or Football? The US versus the rest of the world…
Many of our TALK English students may be a bit confused when they try talking football with an American and they find that they are on a subject they never knew they were interested in. Eventually, they will be asked by the native football fan – “Oh, you mean soccer?”
While those of us from the States may feel like the rest of the world has it wrong, Americans are pretty much the only people in the world who have stuck to the term soccer.
Just where does the term soccer – and the ensuing soccer vs. football debate – come from anyway, and which term is the right one?
First there was football …even before soccer
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the game generally referred to as football the world over – what we Americans call “soccer” – finds its origins in 19th century Britain. Prior to the middle ages, “folk football” games were played in local communities throughout modern-day Britain.
The modernized version of the game which we now recognize as football developed around 1850. As the Industrial Revolution created more leisure time, people looked for new forms of entertainment to pass their new-found free time. Although the first official leagues are thought to have risen in England and Scotland, football clubs could be found in most of Europe by the early 1900s.
and then …
Traditional football migrated to the U.S.A. in the mid-19th century and by the 1880s, Canadian and American teams started playing each other in informal matches. Canada soon dropped its football interest to pursue ice hockey. In the U.S.A. in the early 20th century, a new sports craze was taking over – gridiron football, or what the rest of the world now calls “American Football.”
In the meantime, the term “soccer” had developed. Dated to 1889, the term “socca” was initially created as an abbreviated version of “association football” which was often used to differentiate the game from “rugby football.” In the US, this shortened slang version evolved from “socca” to “socker” and finally “soccer” – and there it stayed.
Which is Right?
Considering the historical development of each term, it’s not really possible to pinpoint one or the other as “right” or “wrong” in the football vs. soccer debate.
Just enjoy “the beautiful game” …..