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The Origin of the Word 'Soccer'

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The origin of the word 'Soccer'

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 end zone 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 quarterbacks.

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.

But these explanations proved to be false.

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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Kamrul Hasan from Dhaka on December 04, 2014:

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hm great hub, thanks for sharing. I think football is the appropriate word for this game, you also mentioned it, "soccer was called football. This made a lot of sense (after all, you do kick the ball with your foot)"

Maryam on February 25, 2013:

this is amazing , the whole game is amazing everything about it is amazing :)

thanx for the effort :)

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on September 24, 2012:

lindacee - Yes, there are some places where you need to just call it what the locals do. Thanks for your comment!

Linda Chechar from Arizona on September 24, 2012:

I lived in South America for three years and you dared not call the game soccer, it is and always will be futbol! ;) Anyway, I often wondered how it got the name soccer. Thanks for clearing things up for me!

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on September 23, 2012:

Gordon Hamilton - Glad you found this interesting! I to, was astounded when I first started looking into this subject. It certainly made me feel more comfortable calling it either soccer or football. Thanks for your comment!

Gordon Hamilton from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on September 23, 2012:

Hi, internpete. I'm astounded. I've been going to football (soccer?) since I was about three years old and never knew that we started the word soccer over here. I have always thought it was an American "slang" word to avoid confusion over American football. Certainly I knew the game was originally referred to as Association Football (and many clubs still have AFC after their names, standing for Association Football Club) but the soccer revelations took me by surprise. I have certainly learned something today - and I'm now off to win bets with friends! :) Great hub.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on September 19, 2012:

Ebower - I am glad you found this interesting, it was a surprise to me when I first started looking into where America got the word soccer from. That's neat you played for 10 years, I started when I was 5 and never stopped! Now I mostly watch it on TV. Thanks for your comment!

Erin Bower from Georgia on September 19, 2012:

This is so interesting! I always wondered why we called it 'soccer'. Silly Americans, we have to go and make things confusing. I really enjoyed this. I played soccer for about 10 years of my life. I voted this up and useful!

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 27, 2012:

Yes indeed, America, Canada, Australia and others use soccer instead of Football because they already have sports that use the word football. Thanks for reading and commenting!

LT Wright from California on August 27, 2012:

Since countries like Australia and Ireland have their own native versions of football, it seems to be more common for people to use the term soccer.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 23, 2012:

Cahill - Don't ask me, I'm not that creative, plus an american nickname would never catch on in Europe! haha.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 23, 2012:

dinkan53 - Thanks and I am glad this was enjoyable for you to read!

If you're looking for more football hubs, or even want to join a group that focuses on English football, then I would suggest you check out the Football Hubbers Network here on hubpages

Thanks for your comment!

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 23, 2012:

James - Yes, it can be tricky to determine the facts from the myths or legends. I found a handful of good sources that are all in agreement. Thanks for your comment!

CCahill from England on August 23, 2012:

Sure! What shall we call it?

dinkan53 from India on August 23, 2012:

Interesting hub and i enjoyed reading it. Regular viewer of football and happy to read everything related to it. Rated as interesting.

James Vernon from UK on August 23, 2012:

Yes,i remember reading that the word soccer had maybe come from 'Association football'. At that point the writer said the wasn't totally sure. Good to hear that it seems to be the case.

Good hub. Voted up.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 22, 2012:

teaches12345 - Haha, yes it does get a little confusing! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 22, 2012:

CCahill - Yeah, it would be nice if it was standardized. Maybe we should make up a new word, and see if it catches on.... ( -; Thanks for dropping by!

Dianna Mendez on August 22, 2012:

This is something I did not know and am glad that you posted. Yet another thing that England has shared with us. In Spanish, soccer is referred to as futbol and "football" is soccer. It does seem confusing when you compare it to the US football game.

CCahill from England on August 22, 2012:

Nice to learn something, really interesting.

I just wish we could standardize it, so that everyone uses to just one word, would make a few thing simpler

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 22, 2012:

kashmir56 - Yes indeed, thanks for visiting and commenting!

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on August 22, 2012:

Hi internpete, great and very interesting hub, i think here in America there is already one sport named football so i guess they didn't want another with the same name.

Vote up and more !!!

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 22, 2012:

SpiffyD - Yes, that does seem to be how it is done. It would make more sense to call soccer football, but when American football was first started they called it football because it was played on your feet as apposed to other games played on horseback. Thanks for your comment!

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 22, 2012:

FaisalKhan2121 - Well, there is already a sport that uses that name, plus, as I mentioned in this hub, soccer is just as worthy a name as football. Thanks for commenting!

SpiffyD from The Caribbean on August 22, 2012:

The rule of thumb seems to be that wherever there's a popular sport in a country called football, the name 'soccer' is used. Given that it has English origins, it's no big deal and actually leads to less ambiguity. Still, it makes far more sense for soccer to be football than any other sport.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 21, 2012:

A M Werner - Very nice. Isn't it cool that one sport can bring so many people together? I always loved that about the sport, no matter what you call it! Thanks for reading and commenting!

Allen Werner from West Allis on August 21, 2012:

Good hub. I've played the sport all my life in America and was raised calling it soccer. As I got older and played with more guys from overseas I learned to speak differently in certain company. Now when I'm playing soccer, most of the guys speak of it as futbol. Our team has guys from Europe, Asia & Africa. When I'm around everybody else in America, it's soccer again. Peace

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 21, 2012:

JKenny - A very good point. And I would agree that soccer is a more appropriate name for the game because, as you mentioned, football is too broad a term. Thanks for your insight and comment!

James Kenny from Birmingham, England on August 21, 2012:

Very interesting hub internpete, I remember watching archive footage of English football from the 1930s the other day and the commentator referred to the game as soccer, so it seems kind of strange that many Europeans get upset whenever they hear Americans calling the sport 'soccer'. Personally I think soccer is actually the more appropriate term because there are in fact many different forms of football: Rugby Union Football, Rugby League Football, American Football, Aussie Rules Football and Association Football (soccer). Thanks. Voted up etc.

Liberum on August 21, 2012:

Anyway, interesting hub from you. Shared it on Twitter.

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 21, 2012:

Liberum - Haha. Actually, in Japan it is soccer, as well as Australia and Canada, but yes, it does seem odd that the US is one of only a few who choose to call it by a different name! Thanks for dropping by.

Liberum on August 21, 2012:

In Africa it's football, in South America it's football, in Asia it's football, in Europe it's football but in USA it's soccer?! Conclusion - damn Americans! Haha :)

Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 21, 2012:

Drunken gator - Same here, always called it soccer, so I will continue to! Thanks for your comment!

Drunken gator on August 21, 2012:

Great Hub. Never knew soccer came from England. I will always refer to is soccer. It's what i know it as.

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