WHY WE SAY “SOCCER” WHEN EVERYONE ELSE SAYS “FOOTBALL”
Sunday, May 27, 2018
The 2018 FIFA World Cup might have you wondering: why do Americans say “soccer,” when the sport where you kick a round ball into a goal is called “football” almost everywhere else in the world?
According to a study from the University of Michigan, the answer can be found in early 19th century Britain. Back then, lots of people were playing a game where you kick a round ball with your feet, but everyone’s rules were different. When a standardized set of rules was finally agreed upon, this version of the game was called “Association Football.”
Some Brits then took the word “association” and turned it into the slang form: “soccer.” Americans soon picked up on the term, since it was a good way to differentiate from that other game we called football: you know, the one with quarterbacks and touchdowns and field goals.
Other countries that say soccer, such as Australia, tend to have a different game they call “football” as well.
The study also found that from about 1960 to 1980, British people said “soccer” almost as much as they said “football.” It wasn’t until the game began to catch on more in the States that Brits began rejecting the term as too American.
So, to sum up, the reason Americans say “soccer” is because the British used to say it… and the reason Brits don’t say “soccer” anymore is because Americans say it now.