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Football (soccer) names

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A football

The names of football refer to the terms used to describe the sport most commonly referred to as either football or soccer in the English speaking world.

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Background

The rules of football were codified in England by the Football Association in 1863, and the name association football was coined to distinguish the game from the other versions of football played at the time. The word soccer is a colloquial abbreviation of association (from assoc.) and first appeared in the 1880s. The word is sometimes credited to Charles Wreford Brown, an Oxford University student said to have been fond of shortened forms such as brekkers for breakfast and rugger for rugby football. In the late 19th century the word soccer tended to be used only at public schools; most people knew the game simply as football. Today the term association football is rarely used, although some clubs still include Association Football Club (AFC) in their name. The game is sometimes known colloquially as footy; the term footer was also once used but is now obsolete.

English speaking world

Football is more commonly known as soccer in certain English-speaking nations where the word "football" refers to a rival code of football developed within that nation, specifically Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United States, and also in areas where Rugby football is more popular than association football, such as Australia, New Zealand and the white communities of South Africa. In these countries "football" was often included in the names of the earliest leagues and governing bodies of the sport, but as that word became increasingly associated with other domestic form of the game so soccer became more widely used.

In the United States, the sport's governing body is the United States Soccer Federation. This body was originally called the U.S. Football Association, and was formed in 1913 by the merger of the American Football Association and the American Amateur Football Association. The word "soccer" was added to the name in 1945, making it the U.S. Soccer Football Association, and it did not drop the word "football" until 1974, when it assumed its current name. Today, "soccer" is the standard name for the sport in the United States, with "football" referring instead to American football.

A few Australian authorities, such as the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) have always used the name "football". In 2004, the Australian Soccer Association changed its name to Football Federation Australia, and announced that the official name of the sport in Australia will now be "football". This has been met with controversy and/or bemusement by followers of Australian rules football and rugby league, the most popular forms of "football" in Australia. Nevertheless some media outlets in some areas have accepted the usage.

In Canada, "football" refers to American football or the closely related Canadian football, in both of its national languages. The usage of "soccer" is so uniform that even in Quebec the game is known as le soccer and the provincial governing body is the Fédération de Soccer du Québec.

In Ireland, Gaelic football is also played but nonetheless the governing bodies for soccer are the Football Association of Ireland, in the Republic of Ireland, and the similarly titled Irish Football Association in Northern Ireland. Many Irish people refer to both codes simply as "football" while reserving the terms "soccer" and Gaelic for occasions when context cannot resolve any ambiguity.

The use of "soccer" in South Africa is common to white speakers of both English and Afrikaans. However, black communities generally use "football", and the country's national association is called the South African Football Association. The Afrikaans word for the sport is sokker.

Outside of these countries the word "soccer" has not been commonly used and "football" remains by far the most common name to describe the sport, being the name officially used by both FIFA, the sport's world governing body, and the International Olympic Committee. However, the use of "soccer" is on the rise, perhaps due to the global influence of American culture on the English language.

Non-English speaking world

Football, in its modern form, was exported by Britons to much of the rest of the world and many of these nations adopted this common English term for the sport into their own language. This was usually done in one of two ways: either by directly importing the word itself, or by translating its constituent parts, foot and ball. Most Romance languages use the word football, albeit with a different pronunciation and occasionally a different spelling: the (Spanish fútbol, Portuguese: futebol, Romanian fotbal) and the French, le football is often shortened to le foot. Similarly the Turkish word is futbol.

In Germanic languages (other than English), the term is usually translated (for example, German: Fußball, Norwegian: fotball, Swedish: fotboll, Danish: fodbold and the Dutch: voetbal. This also applies to Finnish (jalkapallo), Spanish: (balompié, but this form is quite unusual), Arabic (kurat al qadam) and Hebrew (kaduregel). In Polish both ways (futbol and piłka nożna) are used.

In Italy, football is called calcio, from calciare meaning to kick. This is due to the game's resemblance to Calcio Fiorentino, a 17th century ceremonial Florentine court ritual, that has now been revived under the name il calcio storico (historical kick or kickball in costume). In Greece podosfero (ποδόσφαιρο), a direct translation, is used.

In Japan, use of the term sakkaa (サッカー) is more common than that of the term futtobouru (フットボール), although the latter term would seem to be gaining popularity.

Aside from the name of the game itself, other foreign words based on English football terms include versions in many languages of the word goal (often gol in Romance languages) and schútte (Basel) or tschuutte (Zürich), derived from the English shoot, meaning 'to play football' in German-speaking Switzerland. There's also nogomet in Croatian and Slovene which is composed of the words for "foot" and "target". Also, words derived from kick has found their way into German (noun kicker) and Swedish (verb kicka).

See also

  • Football (undifferentiated) - an overview of the history and development of different football-style sports
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