What was soccer Originally Called ? What do you call this sport? It’s not just football or soccer

What was soccer originally called ? Known to most of the rest of the world as football, or “fútbol,” the beautiful game is almost exclusively referred to as soccer in the United States, but many Americans may be surprised to learn that our outlier moniker actually originated across the pond.

Games played by kicking, hitting, throwing or carrying a ball have been around for thousands of years, but in the mid-to-late-19th century many sports—such as baseball, soccer, and American football—codified their rulebooks into the forms we recognize today.

Modern soccer was born in 1863, when representatives from several English schools and clubs got together to standardize a single set of rules for their matches. They dubbed their new organization the Football Association, and their version of the game became known as “Association Football.” The word association was used to distinguish their specific sport from other popular games of the day such as “rugby football.”

The word soccer comes from a slang abbreviation of the word association, which British players of the day adapted as “assoc,” “assoccer” and eventually soccer or soccer football. (The habit of adding –er to nicknames in British vernacular is frequently attributed to Oxford students of that period, and can be found in other sporting slang such as “rugger” for rugby.)

The parallel names soccer and football (or the combined soccer football) were used more or less interchangeably to refer to association football until well into the 20th century, at which point football emerged as the dominant name in most parts of the world.

However, in countries where another football variety was already popular—such as America and Australia—the name soccer stuck around.

what was soccer originally called

Most British people stopped saying ‘soccer’ because it’s what Americans called it

The interesting thing here is that Brits still used “soccer” regularly for a huge chunk of the 20th century. Between 1960 and 1980, “soccer” and “football” were “almost interchangeable” in Britain, Szymanski found.

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“Since 1980 the usage of the word ‘soccer’ has declined in British publications, and where it is used, it usually refers to an American context. This decline seems to be a reaction against the increased usage in the US which seems to be associated with the high point of the NASL around 1980.”

Most British people stopped saying “soccer” because of its American connotations, however, UK broadcaster Sky Sports still used it to brand wildly-popular TV shows “Soccer Saturday” and “Soccer A.M.”

The word ‘soccer’ actually comes from Britain

Many believe that the word “soccer” is an American invention, but the term “soccer” originated in Britain, according to TIME and other news outlets.

Business Insider reported that, “In the early 1800’s, a bunch of British universities took ‘football’ a medieval game — and started playing their own versions of it, all under different rules.”

After these different versions were born, students at the University of Oxford began to give the different versions of the sport different names. “Rugger” (rugby football) was the name for rugby football and “Assoccer” (association football) was later shortened to “soccer,” according to History.

How ‘soccer’ became an American name for ‘football’

The different names for the sports began to grow popular across Britain and the world as they spread overseas. Smithsonian Magazine reported that British fans ended up choosing to call the sport “football” in the 1980s due to Americans choosing the word “soccer.”

In the U.S., a different sport was born out of mixing rugby and association football together to create gridiron football.

Britannica reported that most people began calling the second sport “football” and, in order to tell the two sports apart, the American association-football players started referring to their sport as “soccer,” by 1945.

British people only stopped using the term “soccer” about 40 years ago as the word grew popular throughout the U.S., according to Business Insider.

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Why Is The Game Called Football?

Like the game itself, the word “football” has foreign ancestors. Historians trace American football back to two European cousins, soccer and rugby. Both began as kicking games.

Soccer- the most popular sport in the world – was originally known as “association football.” Newspapers seeking a shorter phrase began to refer to it as “assoc.” That name was soon shortened to “soc” and then grew back a bit to “soccer.”

While rugby also began as a football game, in 1823 something occurred that changed the kicking game forever. A player named William Webb Ellis, instead of kicking the ball over the goal line, picked it up and ran it across.

At first, observers didn’t know what to think. Eventually, the agreed it was a good idea. The game was played at the Rugby School and became known as rugby football, later shortened to rugby.

Both soccer-style football and rugby-style football eventually found their way to America. What resulted was an American combination of the two games. It was until much later (1906) that forward passing was allowed.

So because the American game was really just another form of the European football games, it too became known as football.

This Is Why We Call It ‘Soccer,’ Not ‘Football’

As the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Brazil this week, fans of the globe’s most popular sport have been tuning in to watch the greatest names in the game square off. But one question continues to crop up: Why is it that Americans insist on calling the sport “soccer,” while the rest of the world calls it “football”?

The word “soccer,” which is believed to have originated in Britain some 200 years ago, comes from the official name of the sport, “association football.” As other versions of the game evolved to include Rugby Football, it is believed the Brits adopted colloquialisms to distinguish each game.

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“The rugby football game was shortened to ‘rugger,’ a term recognized in British English to the present day, and the association football game was, plausibly, shortened to ‘soccer'” Szymanski writes. (Apparently ending words in “er” was a fad back then.)

Gradually, the term “soccer” gained popularity in the U.S. to distinguish the sport from American football. By the 1980s, the Brits began to part with the term, apparently, because it had become too “American.”

“In the U.S. it seems to have had a more democratic flavor – everyone used it – and more easily shifted from a colloquialism to a proper name because of the utility of distinguishing it from the other ‘football’,” Szymanski explains in his paper, which was published in May.

“Since 1980 the usage of the word ‘soccer’ has declined in British publications, and where it is used, it usually refers to an American context. This decline seems to be a reaction against the increased usage in the US which seems to be associated with the highpoint of the [North American Soccer League] around 1980.”

what was soccer originally called

Where did the word “football” come from?

This begs the question…where did the name football then come from? The British like to argue that what Americans call football and they call American football or gridiron football, makes no sense because it’s mostly played with your hands.

So should we call it handball? Oh, wait, that one is taken, too. Then they argue it should be called hand egg because the shape is not your typical round ball shape.

It has not caught on – at least, not in America. (Fun fact: the people who invented the oval shape for the rugby ball and football were both European!) Rugby, soccer, and American football all evolved from the same sport, which was originally a sport that involved a bit more kicking.

Okay, then why did it not change from rugby football to American rugby, instead of just football? This, I cannot answer. However, one could argue that we call it football due to the length of the ball, which is approximately one foot. We measure using the Imperial System, remember? (Which also started out in Britain, but I digress.)

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