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Why Do Americans Call It "Soccer"?

Saturday, March 23, 2013 | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

One of the most notable lexical differences between Britain and the USA is our respective employment of the words football and soccer to describe the very same sport. A cursory glance at the comments section of YouTube will tell you that not every Brit welcomes the American variation, which is often derided as "typical American ignorance". Of course, YouTube commenters - British or otherwise - are not always noted for their fact-checking skills, so I'm going to help set the record straight.

The word soccer actually originated in England during the 19th Century as a colloquial abbreviation of what was then widely known as Association Football. In fact, the latter term was created by the English Football Association to differentiate it from rugby football, which we now know as rugby. This gives rise to why American Football is named thus, since the game of rugby - rather similar in rules to those of the NFL - was a form of football that broke away from the 11-a-side sport we know today.

Moreover, it is believed that the soccer abbreviation was coined by Oxford University student Charles Wredford Brown - himself a former England football captain - as another example of the "Oxford "-er"" words, which also produced rugger (abbreviation of rugby football). Subsequently, the words assoc and later soccer were used by the British upper classes, who were the sport's primary spectators in its infancy.

Eventually, the word soccer carried over to the United States, though initially the sport's ruling body was known as the United States of American Football Association (USAFA). This was altered in 1945 to the United States Soccer Football Association (USSFA), and later - as it became apparent that rugby and 11-a-side football no longer needed distinguishing by name - became United States Soccer Federation (USSF) in 1974.

So, as with the word aluminum (as opposed to aluminium), soccer was a creation of the English themselves and later - by way of differing standardization - remained gospel in one country and not in the other.



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3 comments:

EmmaK said...

Or maybe we should ask why American football is thus classified when no one kicks the ball apart from to score a field goal! Bonkers! The answer is here if you have the patience http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_is_American_football_called_%27football%27

Gill Chriss said...

There is no difference between the
soccer
and football, just Amercians say it soccer and British say it football.

Smitten by Britain said...

Not just Americans either, other countries call it soccer as well but for some reason Americans are the ones who get called out for it.

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