Why Americans Call It Soccer

Ball sports have existed for centuries and in so many different forms. Football as we know it today officially began in 1863 when the rules of the sport were codified and the English Football Association was born.

The problem was, a number of sports that involved running with a ball were also known as Football. In order to distinguish it from the rest, their version of the game was called “Association Football”. The word association was used to differentiate it from other such sports e.g Rugby Football.

Soccer, originally a slang, is a word of British origin, attributed to Oxford students who shortened Association to Assocer and eventually, Soccer. The word was used to describe the sport in England well into the 20th Century, even appearing on the title of Sir Matt Busby’s autobiography “Soccer at the Top: My Life in Football” which was published in 1973.

In places where Association Football is the predominant sport, there was no reason to use the word soccer and it eventually fell out of fashion. However, this doesn’t explain the disdain the British have for the word. Some attribute this contempt to anti-Americanism.

As Association Football and Rugby Football were coming up in the UK, the USA developed Gridiron (American) Football, which combines elements of the two sports, and is now popularly known as Football to them. That sport is now the most important sport in the country and so it’s just more convenient to call Association Football, Soccer.

America is not alone in this, other countries such as Ireland (Gaelic Football), Australia (Australian Rules Football) also use soccer to differentiate. Chances are if you ask to be taken to a football game in those countries, it won’t be what you’re familiar with.

Ifeanyichukwu Achife

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