“Football” Versus “Soccer”

1024px-U20-WorldCup2007-Okotie-Onka_edit2Americans and Brits have a love-hate relationship (unclear feelings about each other). We love the British and the British hate us.

This is evident (clear) if you watch any British drama shows. Americans are portrayed as (shown to be) loud, brash (aggressive in a rude way), demanding (wanting things now and at a high standard), swaggering (walking and moving as though we think we are better than other people), rich and ostentatious (showing what you have to impress others), and boasting (saying you are great). I could go on and on (continue) — I know some Brits would be happy to — but I think you get the idea. To be honest, I really can’t blame them. If you’ve ever encountered (met) an “ugly American” traveling abroad (overseas), you’d feel the same way, too.

On the other hand, Americans love the British, especially the English, and we portray (show) the British in a very different way in our movies and TV shows. Generally speaking, British characters are well-mannered (behave well toward others), highly literate (read and write very well, knowing the great authors and are well-informed), elegant (graceful and stylish), and sophisticated (have good taste). Americans believe the Brits to be all of those things we are not, and we want to be like them.

Perhaps that’s why here in the U.S., big-city literati (highly-educated people who consider themselves well-read (well-informed about literature and important ideas)) are turning into soccer fans. These Americans follow British teams and gather at bars (places of business where people gather to drink alcohol and to socialize) — or “pubs” to the Brits — to watch games on big-screen TVs.  And, they’ve started calling “soccer” by the British name, “football,” and referring to the field where the game is played by the British term, “pitch.”

All of this is rather silly, in my opinion, and may backfire (have the opposite effect). All we need to do is look at the history of the terms “football” and “soccer” to see why.

The term “soccer” is actually a British term. It was developed in the 1800s to distinguish the sport of soccer, officially called “association football,” from other similar sports, such as rugby football. It was also useful in the U.S. to distinguish this sport from “gridiron football,” the sport that most Americans associate with the term “football.”

For some years in Britain, both terms — “soccer” and “football” — were used interchangeably (one for the other, without any difference in meaning). However, the Brits in the end preferred “football” over “soccer.” Why? Because Americans were using the term “soccer.” They didn’t want to associate themselves with us then, and they may not want to associate themselves with us now.

That’s why I say Brit-loving Americans may find their embrace (acceptance and love) of soccer/football backfiring. The Brits may, once again, find it so distasteful (unpleasant; disgusting) to share terms for a beloved (much-loved) sport that they will come up with (invent; create) entirely new terms to thwart (oppose; prevent someone from achieving their goal) us annoying Americans.

– Lucy

Photo Credit from Wikipedia

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19 Responses to “Football” Versus “Soccer”

  1. Dan says:

    Thank you Lucy.

    So many things I did not know in today’s post.

    Unfortunately, getting up at 4:45 AM this week, I am in a zombie like state of mind and I am unable to comment more on the subject.

    When I am like this I am only able to sit and listen to the radio. That what I am doing right now.

    I am using the last two brain cells functioning one for writing this and the other one for cooking something for dinner.

    The cat is giving me orders and since my willing power is at zero levels I must obey him and execute is directions. I am giving him food.

    Thank you Lucy it is always a pleasure reading your posts.

  2. Aécio Flávio Perim says:

    It is really a good story, mainly in this occasion of World Cup in Brazil. Interesting that the game was invented in England and became popular in Brazil! But now I’m in touch with the matches between teams from all over the world. The only thing I don’t understand about it is why they are so well paid for doing a run after a ball. There are more important things to be done for mankind, as for example, avoid poverty.
    It is none of my business to worry about what people do and why they do it.
    Aecio from Brazil, the country of soccer.

  3. Myo ko ko says:

    Hey, someone is airing hate words out today! huh?
    Literally, I can’t just wait to see that very new term that “Lucy-hate” Brits would come up with near future!
    That term has got to be something special!
    Don’t you think so?! 😉

    Just kidding, Lucy.
    I just love this post and thank you.
    Bye for now.
    I’ll drop more next day.

  4. Betty says:

    Thank you Dear Lucy. I have got up too early and start reading your post already.

    I really can consider myself a streak reader – THANKS Dear Warren for teaching us about this term in your post last week.

    I have never stopped reading since the day I realised words have meanings in them. This habit started when I was taught to read Chinese. Now because I understand English as well, I read English and Chinese everyday without stopping. The truth is, I read more English than Chinese these days because this website has English that I like to read.

    I can’t help laughing reading your post above, Lucy. You see, I learned my English in Hong Kong and England, UK before I discovered this website. That means I learned British English to start with. Unfortunately, or fortunately? I was alarmed by my incapability to understand some of my American friends when we talked.

    My resistance to learn American English finally broke down. I must try to understand different English in different countries, at least British and American English.

    Sorry Lucy I have digressed again.

    I have written enough English this morning. I’ll read your article above again in order to remember the vocabularies.

    Many thanks again.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

  5. Ben ja Min says:

    Sh*t! i was just about to wirte my mention on this site.
    but, all of things i wrote was removed.
    oh my God!


    in~~~~~~~~~~~~beautiful LA in california

    i’m in south korean.
    i’d glad to attend in here. it’s so cool site!
    this is wonderful web site for me and south-korean students.
    the reason why we have been learning in english with being difficult. even if we put a large amout of time on studying english in korea-class, it doesn’t efficiently to us.
    if we use this site, it must be more efficient than learning at the korea school.

    thanks Lucy

  6. Myo ko ko says:

    Hi Lucy,
    Off of this topic,
    I have to thank you for your link to the best commencement speeches collection on NPR site.
    I’m reading those addresses.
    I find those really inspiring.
    I can’t thank you enough for that, Lucy! Thanks. 🙂

  7. Myo ko ko says:

    Speaking of soccer or football or whatever, pitch or football field or anything,
    Just curious if Jeff watches the ongoing great World Cup.
    I know he isn’t a big fan of this sport.
    But you know this event is a special occasion.
    Of course, he enjoys baseball, the Dodgers.
    Go Dodgers! Go World Cup! 😉

  8. emiliano says:

    Dear Lucy, I have to confess that I agree with you word by word. When I first started to learn
    English it seems American English was rude and all the teachers I had were English, of course
    I tried to listen to the BBC and I have my Cambrige Lower Exam in the Bristish Institute in
    Madrid, having to go to the Complutense University for three days to make the written exam
    and to the British Institute to pass the oral test.

    American acent sounds so bad and rude that it was like a nightmare trying to understand them.

    Little by little my mind chaged and having to talk with lot of american tourists that came to
    Madrid and wants to chage money, travell checks, and other kind of paper orders, everything
    was changing inside my mind, and also I could see just what you said talking with lot of
    English tourists and USA tourists.

    After touching ESL site, being in contact with Jeff, all was absolute different. No more British
    teaching, I like Jeff´s accent as the best, sorry Lucy but he was easier for me at the begining,
    afterward your accent was incredible nice to my ears too. It was so american that I liked it
    so much whe I got acustomed to it. Thank you dear Lucy you gave me the big change with your
    podcasts and readings.

    Jeff´s accent it is the best to me, British are always proud of their Cambrige or Oxford accent
    and this is so evident that some time I hate them just a little, other time I like to listen to the
    tv serials like “Downton Abbey” or “Up and Down” to not say “Hercules Poirot” with David
    Suchet, he is a genious, I know you love him dear Lucy just the same like Ian McKellen, I love
    his voice too, but this is another story.
    One voice I love now it is Peter Dinklage in his role of “Game of Thrones” but curious this is
    an American Actor with an incredible voice and has the best role in the serial doing of “Tirion
    Lannister”, yes he is an incredible good actor, and he is born in EE.UU., not in England.

    My best dear Lucy and congratulations by this post, I have been laughing a lot reading it.

    these are

  9. Hilario says:

    SPORT GAME OR MUCH MORE THAN THAT. Yes, soccer seems to be going beyond politics and religions even, but not as much as getting tax evaders´s status allowed. You can´t break down neither deny, one of the two certainties of life (dead and taxes). There´s nothing wrong at someone´s incoming a lot of money but also there´s neither nothing wrong at contributing in progression as it has to be. Some historians and journalist reported that during the ferocious Spanish civil war, there was episodes of stopping war hostilities and playing soccer between the two contender sides. Clubs here in Spain at least have been always managed by not-too-much clear business people, under-opinion indian exotic ones, some how obscure russian gas merchants or gulf petrodollars buying bankruptcy proprietors, using it as platform for moving “not too much clean” money transfers. And so do the big stars´s representatives with their pupil´s incomes. dady´s included. Another interesting feature is that of the placebo effect that soccer has for handling people´s additional desperation and well-being decrease, as of the Romans when used stadiums to create social content and get mass over control through its “bread and circus”. If Brazil has spent so much money deducted from social improvements can this, wining Brazil or not the final world cup, turning into serious social frustration of hard to calculate scope. Someone probably has or should have the design of a contingency plan B for damage control, the speech of failure in advance, just in case !

  10. Tania says:

    Hi! It’s a topic for men especially but with a lot of interesting references.
    “Why Americans Call Soccer ‘Soccer’…
    To me it is very clear: American football is called “soccer” having another rules then the classical football.
    We adopted the classical football with the same name.
    We have very good football players playing in many international football teams, even in England, Spain, Italy.
    And very good coaches.
    Unfortunately, at present , we do not have a very good national football team.

  11. Tania says:

    Hi! Thank you for this new phrase to me “Ugly American”, “Ugly American” label…
    According to Wikipedia there is and “The Ugly American”, a 1958 book by authors William Lederer and Eugene Burdick,
    and a 1963 movie , starring Marlon Brando.
    In the book, a fictional journalist wrote,
    “A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land.
    They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They’re loud and ostentatious.
    …maybe they’re not properly trained and make mistakes out of ignorance.”

  12. Tania says:

    Hi! I don’t know if I agree with this opinion.
    Americans come from “another world” and , of course, they are like different people.
    I think Jeff sometimes says “I am ugly” and I don’t know why.
    With reference to “Ugly American”?

  13. Tania says:

    Hi! I think this so called “Ugly American” could be a good topic at our English Cafe.

  14. dan says:

    Hi there guys.

    Yesterday, in an attempt of finding out what was going on with the IRS lost Emails scandal, I was watching some videos of the hearing where this gentlemen IRS commissioner John Koskinen gets grilled by lawmakers.

    I do not want to be perceived like a heartless son of a gun, but I enjoy looking at someone sitting on the hot seat trying to be natural, when you can see he/she is tensed up like a violin’s string

    I did not like the fact though, that some of the politicians asked questions, but did not wait for a response. That is rude, but part of the show. I was actually insulting them out lout.

    I must also recognize that that is fun when you look at it from another country. If you actually live in that country, you tend to loose faith in the system, end up not trusting anyone anymore.

    I do not you, but I think that is more entertaining than the world cup.

    Thanks and have a nice weekend everyone

  15. emiliano says:

    Sorry Dan, what are you talking about?
    I don´t know anything, till now, about this man or what he did bur after searching
    through the web my lack of knowledge it is the same as before.

    May you explained us just a little more? and how did you get these news?

    My best dear Dan.

    I didn´t see a single football match of the world cup, sorry about the subject, but
    even Spain crash wasn´t watched for me, I don´t care anything about the subject
    of being eliminated so fast, nevertheless it has been a good topic to write something
    in gatufo´s blog, ja ja. it has been a big ridiculous what this world champions team
    have done, more or less the same like England, the football inventors…..ja,ja,ja.

    I would like Costa Rica to win the World´s Champion Cup, I cross my finger for that, I
    am very sorry for Brazil or Argentina, buy I prefer Costa Rica, Mexico o Colombia.
    Good luck.


  16. dan says:

    Hi Emiliano.

    I was about to go sleep when I read your post on my phone. I had to restart my computer for writing this.

    I mostly get my news from NPR. I mostly listen to this radio through my satellite antenna or computer. At times with an app called TuneIn Radio.

    I listen to it every single day and I also read many of their articles and blogs.

    If you have noticed something, most of Lucy, Jeff and Warren’s posts are based on NPR’s stuff.

    I also watch tons of videos on You tube. Something I like is Jon Stewart and many other things.

    I have been starting too many of my sentences with to many “I”. See! I did it again.

    That piece of news I was talking about in my previous post is about the IRS (Internal revenue service).

    Just Google IRS and under news you’ll be able to find that.

    In short, for what I get, is that they are (the IRS) accused of ” improperly holding up applications by conservative groups (Tea Party) seeking tax exempt status”
    The other day these conservative lawmakers were mining/grilling the head of the IRS for information about Emails that are missing from a certain period of time.
    Here are a couple of videos you can look at:

    Rep. Gowdy Questions IRS Commissioner John Koskinen about IRS Targeting Scandal
    Rep. Ryan Takes IRS Commissioner To Task Over Lost Emails

    good night everyone

  17. emiliano says:

    It would be nice also that Chile, Uruguay or Ecuador could win also the world´s cup, if that could
    not be possible I prefer Brazil or Agerntina before one of the Eurpean´s team.
    Some countries from Africa I think there are also in Brazil, some of them may win after all, that
    would be a nice surprese.y


    I couldn´t say the reason, may be because these countries of Europe have more
    money and they have won more times the world champions cup, except Brazil
    and Argentina.

    What about EE.UU.?

    Well, It could be also nice and good for all the soccer lovers of that country.

    Stop emiliano, you know nothing about the theme you are talking now, it is enough.

    bye, emiliano

  18. emiliano says:


  19. emiliano says:

    BRAVO COSTA RICA, a por ellos…… a por ellos ooeeeeee

    I am with you, I want you to win the World Champions Cup.

    Sure, you will defeat Netherland, YES YOU CAN.

    Spaniards are with you.


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