Soccer in America is growing in popularity, but for some, there is confusion about the name. Overseas the sport is either called football or futbol, as it’s a game played using your feet to kick a football. It gets more confusing when football in America means something entirely different, and it’s a sport played barely kicking anything, with an egg-shaped ball. Soccer is popular in the Latino community in America and in Spanish ‘futbol’ means soccer. So with so many Latino followers, why is the sport called soccer and not futbol?
Where soccer came from
The term soccer came when the game was first being developed. Originally football was a blanket term to cover a range of sports including rugby and soccer. The game originated in Britain, and many assume the name ‘soccer’ is an Americanism, but actually, the word came from the creators. When soccer was founded in 1863, England’s Football Association wrote down their rules, but at the same time, another sport was outlining its rules too. Rugby.
Rugby football was named after a college in the UK, and instead of playing the game with your feet, it allowed its players to pick the ball up and run. This game is closer to American football, which explains why the US version is called football despite not much kicking involved. Both sports could not be called football back in the UK, and the kicking sport became known as football, with the handling sport becoming known as rugby.
Just like in the UK, the terms are different to distinguish between sports and the same is the case in America. American football is known as football while associating football became known as soccer.
So if the majority of fans in America call soccer ‘futbol,’ why is it now known as that? When soccer became popular, America already had its own version of football, so calling it ‘futbol’ or ‘football’ was going to be confusing. Many English speaking countries call ‘football’ soccer, and even in England, where it was invented, soccer is used. The term helps to distinguish between other countries’ versions of football. In Ireland, they have Gaelic football, and Australian rules football is played in Australia.
So many versions of football
There are many forms of football, so it helps to have a way of distinguishing them. In England ‘futbol’ it is occasionally called soccer, but the majority of people call it football. ‘Soccer’ helps those in the UK who play rugby distinguish it from their own sport, and in the USA American football is king, so it just gets called football. At this point it doesn’t matter how popular soccer becomes in the United States, there is no way it will ever be called ‘football’ or ‘futbol.’
It’s strange that the most popular sport in the world isn’t given its official name in America, but with the US’ own version already known, it wasn’t possible. Soccer will remain as soccer in the USA unless somehow American football stops being a thing, which is never going to happen!