Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Kool Kid Joe: Wait, countries other than the US call this game "soccer"? I thought that was an American saying that originated from having to distinguish it from the lemon-shaped game of football.

Brickie: Yeah, it's a word that originates in English public schools of the 1890s. Rugby Football and Association Football were the two main games, known to the schoolboys as "Rugger" and "'soccer" for short.

Actually, quite a lot of English people call it soccer, just not when Americans are listening. And they know it's just a nickname, not the actual name of the sport.

Kinitawowi: I'm an English person who's known quite a lot of English people, and I've never met a single one who calls it "soccer" unless they're either mocking Americans (in which case it'll be "sahrcer") or referring to a football computer game (Sensible Soccer FTW).

English origin for the name. It's really only in common use in the US, Japan, and a few other small countries. The fact that a lot of English disown the nickname, does not remove the fact that they invented it way back when. Since all three sports evolved out of the same original game, and the "official" rules for all of them weren't codified till around 1880, precedence doesn't enter into it much. "Soccer" was coined to distinguish "the dribbling game" from "Rugby football".

In America, most schools adapted Rugby rules (with significant diversions in rules developement mostly interferance), which eclipsed all early variants. Thus there was only one sport to carry the name at college level, "soccer" was mostly a working-class immigrant game for a very long time.

Panda-s1: My favorite part of the football naming game is Italy; there they call it calcio (kick), though this is because of it's similarity to an older football game calcio fiorentino.

po8crg: I'm English and I've heard it called soccer; but I live in a big Rugby League area, and when you hear football, it's a 50/50 guess whether people mean RL or soccer anyway.

Football was a generic name for ball sports played while running (ie on your feet) until codification. Various footballs were codified by various different groups at approximately the same time - in the late part of the nineteenth century. Only in Britain was there a split - between Rugby School and a number of other schools, led by Harrow - so the Brits came up with both Rugby and Soccer, while Australia, Canada, America and Ireland each invented their own code. Rugby underwent an amateur/professional split in 1898 completing the set of seven codes of football, all of them derived from the rather rule-less traditional village games. Some of the traditional, pre-codification or localised game do survive, notably the Eton Field Game, as Eton refused to accept the Harrow or Rugby codes.

Handling the ball was permitted in the original FA rules, though not running with the ball in hand. In fact, that appears to have been the general rule c.1800 (it wasn't handling the ball that was odd about rugby, but running with it in hand). Equally, the original off-side rule was that a player was required to be behind the ball; rugby still operates that off-side, soccer has relaxed it with the permission to be in front of the ball as long as there are two defenders in front of him (initially one, then three and finally moved to two). American football has completely abolished the offside rule during play, only putting players offside at the scrimmage. Australian Rules has no offside rule whatsoever.