When Did England Start Calling It Football?

The term 'football' was used in Great Britain in the early 20th century and became especially prominent in the decades after World War II. However, by the 1980s British fanatics had begun to avoid the term, largely because it was viewed as an Americanism. 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 actually 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. The word soccer was coined by the English Jasp. The word “soccer” originated in England and was originally used to differentiate association football from its cousin, rugby. Just as rugby football was shortened to “rugger”, the association football game became known as “soccer” thanks to the abbreviation of the word “association”.

One of the most notable differences between British and American English is that the sport known as soccer in Great Britain is often referred to as soccer in the United States. The renowned British magazine World Soccer still uses the word in its title, while Sky Sports results update program for Saturday's games at three in the afternoon is called Soccer Saturday. In the 1880s, linguistically creative students at Oxford University distinguished between the sports of “rugger” (rugby football) and “assoccer” (association football). As the sport became popular in the United States in the 1980s, there was a backlash in England and soccer stopped being used.

In the 20th century, rugby football was more commonly called rugby, while association football had earned the right to be known simply as simple football. Football and soccer were used interchangeably in England until they realized that they didn't want to be associated with Americans and started calling it “soccer exclusively”. It is believed that the word “football” was coined in public schools in England, where they also came up with the name “rugger” for rugby. British players started calling it “assoc”, which became “assoccer” and, finally, “soccer” or “soccer football”.

Its use as an abbreviation for the word association began in the late 19th century, and there are references to soccer, soccer fields, and soccer fields in both the United States and England before 1900. The Americans adopted 'soccer' for their version of this game known primarily in Britain as football, and they called its field version by that name.

Sue Ayars
Sue Ayars

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