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Posted by Lewis on June 09, 2003

In Reply to: Soccer posted by Henry on June 06, 2003

: : : : : Can anybody help me out with the origins of the term soccer. I understand that it comes from football association(abreviated)however I need to know why this term is mostly used in the united states and everywhere else almost uses football. If anyone can help me I would muchly apreciate.

: : : : That's one to stir the hornet's nest. Call football soccer anywhere outside the USA and you risk insult and possibly personal injury.

: : : : 'Soccer' - and I have to shudder when I call it that - originated in England and that is the original and now archaic name for the game. The upper classes had their own game of Rugby Football and so when the plebs came along with their own game they used another name. I'm not sure about it coming from association football, but that might be the case.

: : : : Our US friends invented what everyone else calls American Football, but they call football. Why the aficionados of two games where you pick up the ball and run with it like to call them football remains a mystery.

: : : : Happily, football (I revert to type here) has become the dominant game worldwide, the common people prevail over the forces of darkness and the term soccer (spit) fades into oblivion.

: : : The best suggestion for the origin of the name 'Soccer' comes from the words 'Association Football'. This goes back to the mid 19th century or so when the rules of many ball games were being formulated - rugby football and tennis are some. The story goes that a group of Public (ie private!) Schools in England got together to draw up standard set of rules for the age old game of two teams kicking a round ball. This group formed an 'Association' of schools - hence the name 'Association Football'.
: : : The word 'soccer' can be seen as a possible derivation from this name. No one knows for sure, but it's the best suggestion to ever come forward.

: : SOCCER - "The brutal game once known in England as 'kicking the bladder' actually dates back at least to the Roman conquest in A.D. 43.The name 'fut balle' was given the game in the 12th century, when it was first played on a large 'field' with boundary lines, with approximately 50 men on each side. It was already causing so many injuries that a number of English monarchs, including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, tried to ban it. The modern spelling 'football' appeared in England by 1650. Football didn't become respectable until James I of England lifted the ban imposed by Elizabeth I, and the rules against mayhem slowly began to evolve.The English game was, of course, developing into what we Americans now call 'soccer' (1889, a clipping and alliteration of 'association football') but which the rest of the world still calls, by some variant or translation of English, 'football'." From "Speaking Freely: A Guided Tour of American English from Plymouth Rock to Silicon Valley" by Stuart Berg Flexner and Anne H. Soukhanov (Oxford University Press, New York, 1997).

: : On a personal note, I don't like team sports. People get really silly and, sometimes, homicidal over a game. A family member is an American football coach. He lost a game and a "fan" shot the windows out of a bedroom in his house. Three children were asleep in that room and I, the babysitter, had just walked past one of the windows. By some miracle, we weren't hurt. But it reenforced my negative view of organized team sports.

: From
: 'It's true that the game known as "football" in most of the world (not just the UK) is known as "soccer" in the US, but we didn't just pull the word out of the air so that we could call our quasi-gladiatorial extravaganzas "football." In fact, you Brits actually invented the word. "Soccer," when it first appeared in the 1890s, was spelled "socca," which was short for "association" or "association football," meaning football played according to the rules laid down by the British Football Association. It was also called "socker" until the current form "soccer" appeared around 1895.

: The "er" suffix of "soccer," incidentally, was often used in late 19th and early 20th century slang, and can also be found in the transformation of the name of the British game "rugby" (named after the Rugby School in England) into the popular term "rugger."'

: Football was popularised by public schools, universities and amateur teams, and fair play was often an ideal. In public schools and universities, it has been common practice to end familiar words with the ending -er, e.g. soccer, rugger and chagger for changing room. Despite its popularity in the rest of the world, football was not widely adopted in North America. It gained popularity in the United States and Canada in the sixties and seventies, both as a spectator sport and as a participation sport in schools - it is cheap to provide a pitch and kit, and skill is more important than stature. Both countries already had their own national sport of football, and the game became widely known as soccer.

: However, I don't think that there has ever been a British Football Association. In England, football is governed by The Football Association. Similar titles which do not indicate nationality include The Football League, The Post Office, The War Office, The Patent Office, The Meteorological Office and The Automobile Association. Many more associations have a royal title, including The Royal Mail, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. In contrast to football, the England cricket team is controlled by the Marylebone Cricket Club and represents Great Britain and Northern Ireland. From time to time it does have an English captain. The Irish Rugby Union team represents both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Eire and the Rugby Union team representing the British Isles is known as the Lions. The Royal Arms of England shows three lions.

The Beautiful Game

Football has been a game for many centuries - there were laws in the Middle ages to curb the enthusiasm of youth, who would play it and disturb the neighbourhoods.

Centuries pass. As is the way of the ruling classes, some nob at Rugby school - unable to control the ball with his feet, decided that the rules should not apply to him because daddy was rich and picking up the ball, ran with it. To justify his cheating, and presumably appease his parents, the masters decided that cheating should be called "Rugby football" or "Football".
(Somewhat like when the poor had eaten food eg meat/cheese wrapped in bread for Millennia, but some nob comes across it and says - "Let's name it after me - it's now a Sandwich and I'll whip any peasant who doesn't call it so!")
To distinguish that "game for louts played by gentlemen" from proper football "a game for gentlemen played by louts" - "Association football" was coined as soon as the Football Association regulated the game (so that people could make money from it?)

Our American cousins ruled by the same moneyed classes out of New York, Virginia and Boston, of course adopted "football" for the game of running with the ball cradled in one's arms - rather than the uneducated classes' ball being kicked with the foot version. Folk being lazy as they are, "American Football" is shorted to "football" (something of a misnoma) and so a new word for real football was needed. "Association" is often abbreviated to "Soc" and so "Association football" became "'soc-er" now "soccer" also known as "footy".

A most lamentable state of affairs brought about by the governing classes.