The Origin of the Word 'Soccer'
Is it Soccer or Football?
I grew up in America playing soccer and as a result, was a huge fan of the sport.
As I got older, I started to follow the sport in many other countries, especially Europe. But I found it was known by a different name there.
In many other countries, soccer was called football. This made a lot of sense (after all, you do kick the ball with your foot), but there was a problem, I already knew of a sport that used that name.
In America, the most popular sport to watch is called football, but it does not often consist of kicking the ball with your feet. It involves people passing an odd shaped ball and trying to tackle the ball carrier before he reaches the endzone to score a touchdown.
So if you start talking about the sport of football in America, you will certainly get people talking about touchdowns and tackling.
Over time I started to hear different explanations for why Americans called European football, soccer. The most common explanation I heard, and thus accepted, was that Americans were just obstinate and wanted to change the name to an ‘American’ name so they used soccer. I also ‘heard’ that many English people found it offensive when people used soccer instead of football because the English invented the sport, so everyone should use the name they use.
And Then I Learned the Truth About the Word ‘Soccer’
I was reading a book called Soccernomics (fantastic book for any soccer fan by the way!) and it mentioned something about the origin of the word soccer that caught my attention and caused me to dig deeper for the answer.
The Answer – Why it is Called Soccer in America
Soccer is called soccer in America because in the 1970’s, when the first league was created, a name was needed for the sport. Soccer and Football were BOTH words from England; however, football was already used by another sport in America, so naturally they used the other name, soccer.
It turns out the word soccer comes from England, and was often used from the late 1800’s to about 1970 (about the same time America decided to use it…). Some sources even suggest that the word ‘soccer’ was much more widely used in England by the upper class for several years until the sport caught on with the middle and lower class who referred to it as football.
More Resources on the Word 'Soccer'
Origin of the Word ‘Soccer’
The word ‘soccer’ came about because in 1863 a group of teams decided to use a standardized set of rules which they called ‘Association Football’. The word ‘Association’ specified the standardized rules they played by as opposed to the many other rule variations others played by at the time.
As time went on, a nickname was quickly generated for ‘Association Football’ and it was called simply, “Assoc’. Apparently, adding ‘-er’ to the end of words was popular at the time (rugby became rugger) and the first few letters of ‘Assoc’ wouldn’t make a very good nickname, so the last three were used, thus creating the word, Soccer.
According to some legend, an oxford student was the first to call the game ‘Soccer’ and it quickly caught on after that with other students and university people. What is interesting is that the first time the game was called simply ‘football’, was years after it was called soccer!
Conclusion – So What do we Call It?
The discovery that the word ‘Soccer’ is just as appropriate as using the word ‘football’ will lead me to continue using soccer when describing the sport. I have found it quite interesting that the words soccer and football were both created in England, and yet only football is used today to describe the sport throughout Europe.
So, should anyone change what they call the sport? No, I don’t think so, it is equally valid to call it soccer or football, but just make sure the other person understands what sport you are talking about!
I hope you found this as interesting as I. Leave a comment with your thoughts on the origin of the word Soccer!
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