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What Word Came First, Football Or Soccer?

What Word Came First, Football Or Soccer?

Football and soccer have been used interchangeably over the years; however, soccer was first invented on the lips of the British. Thereafter, football happened to become a generic name and has almost overshadowed soccer.

Whether it’s called soccer or football in some parts of the world, the sport has progressed geometrically due to its uniqueness among others.

Many legends have emerged from it and great fortunes have been made. In this article, we will be thoroughly checking out how soccer relates to football and its influence on the world.

What Word Came First, Football Or Soccer?

Football as a word came first before soccer. The word was loosely used for decades before soccer was coined as a word. Soccer, as a word, was formed in Britain over 200 years ago, in the late 1800s, to refer to Association football. 

It was necessary to call it soccer because there was another kind of similar sport known as Rugby Football at that time. With the sport gaining popularity across the Atlantic, in the early 1990s, the Americans adopted the word “football” to refer to their rugby variant of the sport.

Soccer was chosen as a preferred word in North America to differentiate it from their growing rugby variant football. The British, although coined the soccer, despised the fact that the Americans would call association football, soccer and term their rugby football variant as football. The sport will again be popularly regarded as just Football in Britain but the damage has already been done.

the relationship between soccer and rugby

Etymologically, one would think that “football” got its name from ‘foot’ and ‘ball’ because it was kicked by the foot. This is because, at the earliest recorded inception of the game, the rules applicable at the time didn’t truly specify using only the foot to play.

What the Americans and North America in general call football is known as Rugby Association Football in America seems to obey the general rules of the game referred to as soccer. Fouls, goal kicks, and winning intentions seem to stay the same.

Just like with soccer, football has gone through many changes to be what it is now. Rules have been changed to suit its play. A major difference between the American and Canadian variants of football is the size of the pitch.

Since the rules governing football allowed for the use of hands, the shape of the ball had to be changed to allow for better handling. This led to the introduction of the oblong-shaped ball.

'Football' vs 'Soccer' – WHY the war of words?

Why Is Football Called Soccer?

Well, we can blame the British for this. They formed the word and would later try to abandon it because it became too “American”.

As far as the Americans are concerned, soccer as a word sticks well to help distinguish their more prominent sport – football. It helps them to avoid confusing the hand-played game with other domestic games.

Where Does The Word Soccer Come From?

Some students at Oxford University enjoyed playing with words by shortening them and adding -er as a suffix in the 1870s. They shortened Breakfast to brekker, Rugby to Rugger, and Football to footer.

Thereafter, they shortened association football to soccer. In 1891 the word soccer was first documented, while in 1863, Footer was found.

It started out as a colloquial term to differentiate the sport played with just the foot and the one that allows playing with hands. It would later become a term used officially to categorize Association Football while Rugby Football will refer to the one played with the hands.

What is the origin of the word 'soccer'?

Where Is The Word Football Or Soccer Used?

Nationality and location, would to a large extent determine how the word ‘football’ would be used. As of today, there are different kinds of sports closely related to football. These include:

  • Association football
  • American football
  • Australian rules football
  • Canadian football
  • Gaelic football
  • Rugby league football
  • Rugby union football

FIFA has 45 national teams partnering with it and English is their first or second language. However, 43 national teams recognize and use the term ‘football’ to name the sport while only Canada and the United States call it soccer, officially.

In the United States and Canada, soccer stands out among other forms of football. However, Australia’s association football adopted the word football instead of soccer in 2005 so it could join the majority of nations that adopted the name.

Why Is Football Called Soccer In The USA?

Is Football Originated From Soccer?

Yes, it did. What we know as football today was imported from the Atlantic to America. It seems to operate by similar rules to what was known as rugby in England.

Soccer had in the past had gameplay that involved the use of hands but the rules were never truly accepted. Judging from the fact that football (American variant) was exported from England, it is safe to infer that the gameplay and general rules that birthed football came from soccer.

England made soccer what it is today. This is because they laid down the first rules which are still very effective in modern soccer.


Soccer and football have a long line of unforgettable history, although they have been used interchangeably, soccer still happens to have officially existed before football. Whatever the case, the uniqueness of both sports will not relent in their growth and influence globally as it keeps bringing the world together.