How Many Countries Call It Football Instead of Soccer?

Of the 45 national subsidiaries of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) in which English is the official or main language, 43 use soccer in the official names of their organizations, while Canada and the United States use soccer. While most of the world refers to this sport as soccer, the name soccer, which Americans use, came directly from Great Britain about 200 years ago. Surprisingly, it was still used interchangeably with football well into the 20th century. It only began to be switched exclusively to soccer around 1980, and it is believed that the British only really stopped using “soccer” because of its American context. And they abandoned it because we kept it.

The United States Football Association, which had been formed in the 1910s as the official organizing body of American football, changed its name to the United States Football Association in 1945 and, later, dispensed with “soccer altogether”. Thus, the Americans began to call their variety of playing field football, and they referred to British sport with the slang term soccer, derived from the soc in association. Rugby, which bears the name of an English boarding school, was a variant that allowed players to carry and run with the ball to move towards the goal. In the 1880s, linguistically creative students at Oxford University distinguished between the sports of “rugger” (rugby football) and “assoccer” (association football). Other countries where the word soccer is common are those that, like the United States, have forms of soccer that compete with each other.

Go anywhere in the country and ask 20 people about soccer and you won't get an answer about the MLS very often. Are you telling me that most English-speaking countries (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland) also call it soccer? It's funny how the English only give us a cane. It's interesting to note that when it comes to naming this beloved sport, there is a great divide between countries. While most of the world refers to it as football or futbol, countries like Canada and the United States call it soccer. But why is this? To understand why this discrepancy exists between countries, we must look back at its history. It all started when British players began calling it “assoc” which eventually became “assoccer” and then “soccer” or “soccer football”.

Ultimately, the version adopted as standard in the United Kingdom became known as association football while another set of rules won in the United States. Football and soccer were used interchangeably in England until they realized that they didn't want to be associated with the Americans and started calling it “soccer exclusively”.However, it could be argued that we call it soccer because of the length of the ball which is approximately one foot. So there you have it! Now you know why some countries call it football while others call it soccer. It all comes down to a difference in history and culture between countries. While some countries have embraced their own version of football or futbol over time, others have kept their original name for this beloved sport.

Sue Ayars
Sue Ayars

Wannabe travel fanatic. Freelance bacon fan. Incurable sushi trailblazer. Friendly music junkie. Infuriatingly humble zombie junkie.