Football or soccer?

On Thursday, to commemorate the start of the 2018 Football World Cup, Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper dropped 4373 footballs over a central Stockholm square, to commemorate (!) that it has been 4373 days since Sweden has played in a men’s Football World Cup.

During the day, many of my students were not sure whether to call the sport soccer or football.

Wikipedia states the following : Where English is a first language the unqualified use of the word football is used to refer to the most popular code of football in that region. The sports most frequently referred to as simply football are association football, American football, Australian rules football, Canadian football, Gaelic football, rugby league football and rugby union football.

The countries which use ‘soccer’ instead of ‘football’ have another form of football (for example American football or rugby football) as their national sport. The word ‘soccer’ is probably derived from the term ‘association.’

There don’t seem to be rugby hooligans. Not sure I would like to ponder why. There is a quote which is commonly held to be that football is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans and rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen. The real quote is actually quite vague and could be taken either way.

It is clear that one is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans; the other a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen.”
Chancellor of Cambridge University, date unknown (pre 1953).


Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

2 thoughts

  1. I played rugby in college and this quote is VERY on point: “football is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans and rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen.” My coach described it as controlled violence!

  2. Very confusing – LOL. We have Canadian football, with an oval, brown ball. We also have “soccer” with the black/white sectioned round ball and we also have Rugby but that is where I am lost. I know that we play all three in town here but I am not a fan so not really sure re difference between Rugby and what we call “soccer”. My silly for the day!

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