Where did the term soccer originate ? 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.
The History Of Soccer
More than 240 million people around the world play soccer regularly according to the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). The game has evolved from the sport of kicking a rudimentary animal-hide ball around into the World Cup sport it is today.
Records trace the history of soccer back more than 2,000 years ago to ancient China. Greece, Rome, and parts of Central America also claim to have started the sport; but it was England that transitioned soccer, or what the British and many other people around the world call “football,” into the game we know today.
The English are credited with recording the first uniform rules for the sport, including forbidding tripping opponents and touching the ball with hands.
As the sport developed, more rules were implemented and more historical landmarks were set. For example, the penalty kick was introduced in 1891. FIFA became a member of the International Football Association Board of Great Britain in 1913.
Red and yellow cards were introduced during the 1970 World Cup finals. More recent major changes include goalkeepers being banned from handling deliberate back passes in 1992 and tackles from behind becoming red-card penalties in 1998.
Some of the top players throughout history include Pele (Edson Arantes Do Nascimento) from Brazil, who scored six goals in the 1958 World Cup and helped Brazil claim its first title; Lev Yashin from Russia, who claimed to have saved more than 150 penalty shots during his outstanding goal-tending career; and Marco Van Basten from Holland, who won several very prestigious soccer awards during one year alone.
There are many debates over who the greatest soccer players are of all time; but players like Zinedine Zidane, Diego Maradona, Michel Platini, Lionel Messi, and Roberto Baggio make almost every list.
THE ORIGIN OF THE WORD “SOCCER”
Today I found out the origin of the word “soccer”. For all you out there who love to complain when Americans, and certain others, call “Football”, “Soccer”, you should know that it was the British that invented the word and it was also one of the first names of what we now primarily know of as “Football”.
In fact, in the early days of the sport among the upper echelons of British society, the proper term for the sport was “Soccer”. Not only that, but the sport being referred to as “Soccer” preceded the first recorded instance of it being called by the singular word “Football” by about 18 years, with the latter happening when it became more popular with the middle and lower class. When that happened, the term “Football” gradually began dominating over “Soccer” and the then official name “Association Football”.
In the 1860s, as in most of history- with records as far back as 1004 B.C.- there were quite a lot of “football” sports in existence being played popularly throughout the world and of course, England.
Many of these sports had similar rules and eventually, on October 26th, 1863, a group of teams in England decided to get together and create a standard set of rules which would be used at all their matches.
They formed the rules for “Association Football”, with the “Association” distinguishing it from the many other types of football sports in existence in England, such as “Rugby Football”.
Now British school boys of the day liked to nickname everything, which is still somewhat common. They also liked to add the ending “er” to these nicknames.
Thus Rugby was, at that time, popularly called “Rugger”. Association Football was then much better known as “Assoccer”, which quickly just became “Soccer” and sometimes “Soccer Football”.
The inventor of the nickname is said to be Charles Wredford Brown, who was an Oxford student around the time of Association Football’s inception.
Legend has it, in 1863 shortly after the creation of Association Football, Wredford-Brown had some friends who asked him if he’d come play a game of “Rugger”, to which he replied he preferred “Soccer”. Whether that story’s true or not, the name caught on from around that point on.
In the beginning, the newly standardized Rugby and Soccer were football sports for “gentlemen”, primarily being played by the upper echelons of society.
However, these two forms of football gradually spread to the masses, particularly Soccer as Rugby didn’t really catch on too well with the lower classes.
This resulted in the name switching from “Soccer” and “Association Football”, to just “Football”; with the first documented case of the sport being called by the singular term “Football” coming in 1881, 18 years after it was first called “Soccer” or, officially, “Association Football”.
The game gradually spread throughout the world under the lower class name of “Football”, rather than “Soccer” as the “gentlemen” called it.
The problem was, though, that a lot of other countries of the world already had popular sports of their own they called “Football”, such as the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, to name a few. In these countries, the name “Soccer” was and, in some, still is preferred for this reason.
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