If you ever witness a conversation about football between someone from the UK and someone from the U.S, an argument will never take long to kick off. The greatest difference between these two sporting nations (and a few others) is that in Britain the sport is called football while in America it is called soccer. The reasons for this date back to the inception of the sport and may surprise you.
While today British people hate to hear their beloved sport be called soccer it was actually the British that came up with the term. In the 1860s in England, there were a plethora of sports that involved the foot at the time. The two most popular were variations of what we know today as rugby and soccer. In 1863 when a group of teams came together to make an official sport out of soccer and they decided to name it Association Football.
At that time it was a common habit to add ‘er’ to the end of many words. Rugby was known as rugger and association football became assoccer, later shortened to soccer. Soon as the sports continued to grow, soccer started to dominate in the lower and middle classes, who never really took to rugby. As the popularity of soccer grew and grew it became the main foot sport in many people’s minds so the term football grew in popularity once again.
Today we know football as the most popular sport in the world. Yet in some countries, it is still known as soccer. America already has American Football so prefers to call it soccer. Ireland has Gaelic football so prefers to call it soccer. Australia has Aussie Rules or ‘footy’ so prefers to call it soccer. New Zealand has an affinity with rugby or ‘footy’ so prefers to call it soccer as well.
While it has become common to mock anyone outside of America who uses the term soccer as they are being too conditioned by American television, the reality is that many countries have their own reasons for calling the sport soccer. Often down to their pride in their own national sport. One other common joke made is that American Football should not be called this because you barely kick the ball with your feet at all. However, it is called this not because of the ball but because you play on your feet. In the early days most wealthy people played sports on horseback so foot sports were often differentiated by name.