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Why does Europe call Soccer “Football”?

Or one could ask, why do Americans call football “football” when it is not played solely with the feet?

The evolution of the terms “football” and “soccer” offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of the world’s most popular sport and its American cousin. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown:

The British Origins of Football and Soccer In the 19th century, England was a cradle of various football games. The term “football” initially referred to games played on foot rather than on horseback. By 1863, “Association Football” was formalized to distinguish it from other football forms like Rugby Football. Newspapers looking for a shorter term coined “soccer” from “assoc,” an abbreviation of “association.”

Football in Europe: A Game of the Feet Europeans call the game “football” because it’s predominantly played with the feet, a simple and logical explanation. But the term has deeper historical roots—it’s derived from the original name “Association Football.” Over time, Europeans dropped the “association” part, sticking with “football” to describe the beautiful game.

Soccer in North America: Distinguishing the Codes The word “soccer” gained prominence in North America to differentiate the sport from American football. The latter emerged from a combination of soccer-style football and rugby-style football, retaining the name “football” in the American lexicon. While “soccer” was once a common term in Britain, it faded out, leaving “football” as the universal term in the sport’s birthplace.

American Football: A Distinct Evolution The American version of football has its roots in the European kicking games of soccer and rugby. American football evolved as a blend of these sports, with unique developments like the forward pass, which became legal in 1906. Its name, “football,” reflects its origins from the European football games, despite the American game now being more similar to rugby.

The Global Perspective Globally, “football” and “soccer” refer to the same sport involving two teams, a ball, and goals at opposite ends of a field. The name differs primarily due to historical development and linguistic preferences. In countries where another form of football is more popular, such as American football in the United States, the term “soccer” is used to avoid confusion.

The Modern Game Today, whether you call it “football” or “soccer,” the sport is a unifying global phenomenon. The names may differ, but the passion for the game transcends languages and oceans, making it a truly international pastime.

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