Why is Soccer Called Soccer?

Why is Soccer Called Soccer

In America, fans recognize association football as soccer. Most casual fans assume that only fans in the USA call it soccer, but that is not the case. Other countries outside of America also recognize the game as soccer, including Ireland, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand. These countries call the game soccer because it helps distinguish it from another football game they play.


So, where did the word soccer originate from initially? What are some countries that use the phrase “soccer” to describe the beautiful game? Why do some clubs in MLS use F.C. and S.C. to represent their team?


Here is the complete breakdown of why the name of the sport is soccer in some places and more!


The Early History

the early history

Back in the 1800s, rugby football was a popular game out in England along with football. Before the Laws of the Game in 1863 helped solidify the rules, different schools and clubs had their forms of football of what we now know as soccer today. Since the rules were different between clubs, some games had one set of rules played with hands, like rugby, and the other half played the game with your feet only. In 1863 the Laws of the Game came out to standardize the rules, and the Football Association was born.


British players would use the slang version to help shorten the phrase “association football” and call it “assoccer.” Other English phrases people would use on the gridiron included assoc, soccer football, and soccer itself. In British slang vocabulary at that time, adding an “er” at the end of a phrase was common, which is where “assoc” became soccer. For example, a rugby player would be known as a rugger and an assoc player being a soccer player.


As the years went by in the late 19th century in England, the word football became what Brits would say to distinguish their game from rugby. However, as the game grew globally, other countries already had their version of a football game, which became confusing. Since some countries already had a football sport, they began identifying this new game as soccer.


What Countries Use the Phrase Soccer?

what countries use the phrase soccer

When the Laws of the Game came out in 1863 with one governing body, it helped solidify one version of the game, which helped it grow globally since it became easy to understand. However, as the game grew in other countries as football, other places already had a “football” game, so they used soccer since it was an abbreviation that fans in England would call association football


Here are some places around the world that still use the phrase soccer today.


United States of America

united states of america

In the United States, soccer is what most fans call the sport. Since American Football (NFL) or gridiron football is easier to simply say “football,” having two sports with the same name would be confusing. To help distinguish one sport from the other, soccer fans in the USA call the game soccer to separate that from gridiron football.


To help solidify soccer in America, MLS (Major League Soccer) had its first season in 1996. After playing host to the FIFA World Cup in 1994, MLS was built and continues to grow in popularity each season. Even some clubs today use the “S.C.” at the end of their name to highlight that they are a soccer club, like Nashville S.C.



Canada has a few teams that are part of Major League Soccer. Those Canadian teams include Toronto F.C., C.F. Montreal, and Vancouver Whitecaps F.C. Being part of MLS, fans in Canada are familiar with the word soccer to represent the beautiful game.




In Ireland, Gaelic Football is a popular game within the community. Sometimes the game was referred to as English Football, which wasn’t that popular with some locals. The phrase “soccer” is now what fans use to identify the game against their popular Gaelic Football league.


New Zealand

Australian Rules Football is a popular sport out in New Zealand. To help distinguish this popular game from association football, fans in New Zealand refer to the game as soccer.



Australian Rules Football is one of the biggest and most popular sports in the country. The sport is a full-on contact sport between 18 players on an oval field. To help distinguish that game from one other called association football, Australian people refer to the beautiful game as soccer.


South Africa

In South Africa, they refer to the game as soccer or sokker.


Why Does MLS Have F.C. and S.C. for their Team Names?

Why Does MLS Have F.C. and S.C. for their Team Names

Now that we understand why we say soccer instead of football in America, MLS throws in wrench with some clubs calling themselves football clubs while others say soccer clubs. For example, NYC F.C. means New York City Football Club. Meanwhile, Nashville S.C. means Nashville Soccer Club.


While both F.C. and S.C. refer to a club that plays soccer, some teams chose to have F.C. at the end of their name since European clubs also use that since they call the game football. However, other groups in the U.S. choose to use S.C. at the end of their name because the branding in MLS means Major League Soccer.


At first glance, it looks strange that some clubs use F.C. while others use S.C., but both are perfectly acceptable at the end of the day since they mean the same thing. Some fans would rather see every team use F.C. to call themselves football clubs, but S.C. “soccer clubs” also means the same thing as F.C.


Conclusion: Why is Soccer Called Soccer?

In summary, the word soccer dates back to the late 19th century in England. At that time, rugby schools and clubs were popular with students, and soccer had many different forms of football rules. After the Laws of the Game came out in 1863 and made one unified version of the rules, association football was born. Association football at that time would be shortened down to phrases like assoc and soccer since both stem off from association football.


As the game began trending worldwide due to its popularity, other countries started adapting the Laws of the Game to their culture. However, some countries, like the United States and Ireland, already had a version of football that their culture was familiar with, so they called the game soccer to make that difference clear.


Today, fans out in Europe primarily refer to the game as football. Meanwhile, in Canada and the United States, fans tend to refer to the game as soccer. Both association football and soccer are correct in describing the game, but it comes down to where you are in the world and how they refer to it due to their other sports.


Similar Posts:

Soccer Match Points

Is Soccer a Contact Sport?

Soccer World Cup Breakdown

Soccer Supporter Groups

How Much Do MLS Players Make?

Soccer Scarves

Why Do Soccer Players Kiss Each Other?

Offsides in Soccer

VAR Soccer

Soccer Tackle

How Long is a Soccer Game?

Why Do Soccer Games End in a Tie?

Soccer Flops

What is a Striker in Soccer?

Supporters’ Shield

MLS Promotion and Relegation

What is MLS?