19 giugno 2014

Football or soccer, which came first?

With the World Cup underway in Brazil, a lot of people are questioning if we should refer to the "global round-ball game" as "soccer" or "football"? This is visible from the queries of the readers that access my blog. The most visited post ever is indeed “Differenza tra football e soccer” and since we are in the World Cup craze I think this topic is worth a post.


According to a paper published in May by the University of Michigan and written by the sport economist Stefan Szymanski, "soccer" is a not a semantically bizarre American invention but a British import.

Soccer comes from "association football" and the term was used in the UK to distinguish it from rugby football. In countries with other forms of football (USA, Australia) soccer became more generic, basically a synonym for 'football' in the international sense, to distinguish it from their domestic game.

If the word "soccer" originated in England, why did it fall into disuse there and become dominant in the States? "Soccer" was a recognized term in Britain in the first half of the twentieth century, but it wasn't widely used until after World War II, perhaps because of the influence of American troops stationed in Britain during the war and the allure of American culture in its aftermath. In the 1980s, however, Brits began rejecting the term, as soccer became a more popular sport in the United States: too much of an Americanism for British English to bear!