The names of association football are the terms used to describe association football, the sport most commonly referred to in the English-speaking world as "football" or "soccer".


The rules of association football were codified in the United Kingdom 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, such as rugby football. The word soccer is a colloquial abbreviation of association (from assoc.) and first appeared in the 1880s. An early usage can be found in an English 1892 periodical. 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. (See Oxford -er) Clive Toye noted "A quirk of British culture is the permanent need to familiarize names by shortening them. ... Toye [said] 'They took the third, fourth and fifth letters of Association and called it SOCcer.'”[1]

The term association football has never been widely used, although in Britain some clubs in rugby football strongholds adopted the suffix Association Football Club (A.F.C.) to avoid confusion with the dominant sport in their area, and FIFA, the world governing body for the sport, is a French-language acronym of "Fédération Internationale de Football Association" – the International Federation of Association Football. "Soccer football", is used less often than it once was: the United States Soccer Federation was known as the United States Soccer Football Association from 1945 until 1974, when it adopted its current name. Some soccer clubs, in Australia for example, still contain the words "soccer football" in their titles.

The game is now generally known in English as "football" or "soccer", with the relative prevalence of the two words varying from country to country (in Australia, Canada and the United States, for example, local "football" codes are prevalent). It is also colloquially called footy, footie or footer in various places.F

English-speaking countriesEdit


Below is a list of countries or territories who hold the English language as an official or de facto official language and the name given to this sport. Included in the list also are places which have some level of autonomy in the sport and their own separate federation but are not actually independent countries: for example with the United Kingdom, the constituent countries and some overseas territories each have their own federation and national team. Not included are places such as Cyprus, where English is widely spoken on the ground but is not amongst the country's specifically stated official languages.

Countries that call it footballEdit

Association football is known as "football" in the majority of countries where English is an official language, such as the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth Caribbean (including Trinidad and Tobago,[2] Jamaica and others), Malta, India, Nigeria, Cameroon, Pakistan, Liberia, Singapore, Hong Kong and others, stretching over many regions including parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Central America.

In many of these countries, the term "soccer" is also widely used. For example, several official publications of the English Football Association have the word "soccer" in the title, and two popular British television shows about the sport are Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday and Soccer AM (both broadcast on Sky TV, an American owned corporation).

North AmericaEdit

In the United States, American football is the most dominant code of football in the country and the word football in the U.S. is used to refer to that sport. Association football is most commonly referred to as soccer, although the word fútbol is gaining some prominence through its usage by America's Spanish-speaking community.

As early as 1911 there were several names in use for the sport in the Americas. A 29 December 1911 New York Times article reporting on the addition of the game as an official collegiate sport in the USA referred to it as "association football", "soccer" and "soccer football" all in a single article.

The sport's governing body is the United States Soccer Federation; however it 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. In 2005 the Major League Soccer team Dallas Burn changed its name to FC Dallas. In 2009 Seattle Sounders FC also adopted the suffix FC, although the words Football Club do not appear in its name.

A similar situation exists in majority anglophone Canada, where the unqualified term "football" refers to gridiron football (le football canadien or le football américain in Standard French). "Soccer" is the name for association football in Canadian English (similarly, in Canadian French, le soccer). Likewise, in majority francophone Quebec, the provincial governing body is the Fédération de Soccer du Québec. This is unusual compared to francophone countries, where football is generally used. For example, in FIFA, an acronym for the world governing body of the sport, the "FA" stands for football association (French for "association football"). Two of the three MLS teams based in Canada use the suffix "FC" in their names: Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

In Central America, the only English-speaking nation is Belize, and like the other six Central American nations, the unqualified term football refers to association football, as used in the Football Federation of Belize and in the Belize Premier Football League.

In the Caribbean, most of the English-speaking members use the word football for their federations and leagues, the exception is the U.S. Virgin Islands, where both federation and league use the word soccer.

The curious case is the bilingual Puerto Rico, where the word football is used in Puerto Rican Football Federation, while the word soccer is used in Puerto Rico Soccer League, the Puerto Rican 1st division, however, its 2nd division is named as Liga Nacional de Futbol de Puerto Rico. Soccer is the most common term in vernacular speech, however. Another case is the Dutch island of Sint Maarten, where soccer is used in Sint Maarten Soccer Association, but neither football nor soccer appears in its league name.


In Australian English, the word football usually means either Australian rules football or rugby league, depending on the regional background of the speaker. Rugby union, which is not as popular as rugby league in Australia, is also sometimes referred to as "football". Soccer is the name used for Association football by most Australians. The usage of football to mean Australian rules or rugby football was already well-established when the first reports of Association football in Australia occurred, in 1880. However, the popular usages are not fixed in any legal form, such as a trademark on the word "football", and by the late 20th century, a few Australian authorities began to use the word football in relation to soccer. In parts of Australia, the term used for association football is going through a period of transition. In 2005, the Sydney based Australian Soccer Association changed its name to Football Federation Australia (FFA), and announced that the official name of the sport in Australia had been changed to "football" to align with the general international usage of the term.[3] and to reduce the connection of the game's name with ethnic rivalries, a major issue in the past. As part of a large reform of the game, the FFA mounted a campaign for the new name to be adopted by its subsidiary state organisations and clubs, many of whom have changed their names and terminology. This was met with antipathy and bemusement by some. Some of the media outlets in the country that have adopted the new usage of the word football include; the Special Broadcasting Service, Fox Sports, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian. Some other media sources adopted the new usage or used alternatives such as "the World Game", to avoid confusion with the more popular codes of football. The men's national team is still commonly and officially known by its long-standing nickname, The Socceroos.

Les Murray, sports broadcaster and until recently, SBS's Sporting Director, coined the term the world game when referring to soccer. The term is also used as the name of the SBS soccer series The World Game, currently broadcast on Sunday afternoons.

In New Zealand English, association football is usually called soccer. "Football" usually refers to rugby union, but can also refer to rugby league. However, in 2006, New Zealand's association football governing body decided to scrap the usage of soccer in favour of football, saying that "the international game is called football".[4] In May 2007, the name of the governing body was changed from New Zealand Soccer to New Zealand Football. It is however, considered inappropriate to refer to "football" without supporting context as to which code the speaker means, so as to avoid confusion. Therefore, while it is common for "football" (or the slang term "footy") to be used to refer to rugby union, it is usually not used otherwise.

Other English-speaking countriesEdit

On the island of Ireland, "football" or "footballer" can refer to association football or Gaelic football. They may also refer to rugby union. Similarly to Australia and New Zealand, the association football federations are called the Football Association of Ireland and the Irish Football Association and the top clubs are called "Football Club". Furthermore, those whose primary interest lies in this game often call their sport "football" and refer to Gaelic football as "Gaelic football" or "Gaelic" (although they may also use "soccer"). "Soccer" is the name used by the overwhelming majority of the Republic of Ireland's media.[5]

In South Africa, "soccer" is the more common name, used by all cultural groups when speaking English. The domestic first division is the Premier Soccer League and both in conversation and the media (see e.g. The Sowetan or Independent Online), the term "soccer" is used almost exclusively. The largest stadium used at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, held in South Africa, was known as Soccer City. Despite this, the country's national association is called the South African Football Association and "football" might occasionally be used in official contexts. In Afrikaans, one of the other major languages in South Africa, the word "sokker" is used far more often than "voetbal".

In the Philippines, both "soccer" and "football" are used (legacies of both American and Spanish rule). When used while speaking a Philippine language, the English spellings as well as the nativised spellings "saker" and "putbol" are used. "Soccer" is somewhat more commonly used among middle and upper class fans, while "football" is used by bodies such as the Philippine Football Federation, and the masses. The use of the word "football" has spread even more since the Philippine Men's National Football Team achieved semi-final success in the 2010 Suzuki Cup.

In Singapore, both "soccer" and "football" are used. The name of the governing body is the Football Association of Singapore but it is not uncommon for the sport to be referred to as "soccer" in everyday usage.

Non-English speaking countriesEdit

Association football, in its modern form, was exported by the British 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.

From English footballEdit

  • French: football[6]
  • Spanish: fútbol[7]
  • Portuguese: futebol
  • Romanian: fotbal
  • Galician: fútbol
  • Turkish: futbol
  • Albanian: futboll
  • Catalan: futbol
  • Russian: футбол (futbol)
  • Bulgarian futbol (футбол)[8]
  • Ukrainian, Belarussian: футбол (futbol)[9]
  • Serbian: fudbal (фудбал)
  • Czech: fotbal
  • Slovak: futbal
  • Norwegian: fotball
  • Swedish: fotboll
  • Danish: fodbold
  • In Persian, the word football (فوتبال) is used.
  • In Thai, the word football (ฟุตบอล: fút-bon) is used.
  • In Lithuanian, the word "futbolas" is used.

Literal translation of football (Calques)Edit

  • Welsh pêl-droed
  • Manx language bluckan coshey
  • Breton mell-droad
  • Scottish Gaelic ball-coise
  • The Georgian name, pekhburti (ფეხბურთი), is a direct calque of "football", being derived from the words for foot, pekhi (ფეხი) and ball, burti (ბურთი).
  • Dutch: voetbal
  • German: Fußball
  • Finnish (jalkapallo)
  • Estonian (jalgpall)
  • Karelian (jalgamiäččy)
  • In Hebrew, the word כדורגל ('kaduregel) is used, which combines the words "כדור" (kadur: ball) and "רגל" (regel: foot, leg).
  • Icelandic, two words see roughly equal use—the invention knattspyrna (knatt- = ball- and spyrna = kicking) and the calque fótbolti.
  • In Greek, the sport is called ποδόσφαιρο (podosphero), from the words πόδι (podi) meaning "foot", and σφαίρα (sphera) meaning "sphere" or "ball". In Greek-Cypriot dialect, the sport is called "mappa" (μάππα), which means "ball" in this dialect.
  • In Standard Arabic, the calque kurat al-qadam/Template:Lang is commonly used. However, in the assorted vernacular varieties of Arabic, kura Template:Lang, meaning simply "ball," is far more common. Fūtbōl (Template:Lang) is also fairly common, particularly in the former French colonies of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
  • In Chinese, the term 足球 (Hanyu Pinyin: zúqiú, Cantonese: juk kau) is used. The term, a calque, literally means "foot"-"ball" ( = foot, = ball), and when used unmodified refers specifically to association football. Rugby is known as ganlanqiu (橄榄球, "olive ball", referring to the ball's olive-like elliptical shape). Non-round ball football varieties, such as American football, Australian football or Canadian football, can be referred to as types of zuqiu, but they are more commonly seen as types of ganlanqiu.

In the first half of the 20th century, in Spanish and Portuguese, new words were created to substitute "football", balompié (balón and pie meaning "ball" and "foot") and ludopédio (from words meaning "game" and "foot") respectively. However, these words never replaced "football" ("fútbol" in spanish and "futebol" in portuguese) and are now only used in club names such as Real Betis Balompié and Albacete Balompié. In Brazil only "futebol" is used.

From SoccerEdit

  • The standard Afrikaans word for the sport is sokker, echoing the predominant use of "soccer" in South African English.
  • In Japanese, because of American influence following World War II, use of the term sakkā (サッカー) is more common than that of the term futtobōru (フットボール). While the Japan Football Association uses the word "football" in its official English name, the Association's Japanese name uses sakkā. Before the war, the Sino-Japanese derived term shūkyū (蹴球, literally "kick-ball", ultimately deriving from the name of cuju, an ancient Chinese form of football) was in common use, but as with many kanji-derived terms, it quickly fell by the wayside following the war.
  • Irish sacar.
  • Manx Gaelic soccar or sackyr

Other formsEdit

  • Italian: calcio (from calciare, meaning to kick). This is due to the game's resemblance to Calcio Fiorentino, a 16th century ceremonial Florentine court ritual, that has now been revived under the name il calcio storico or calcio in costume (historical kick or kick in costume).
  • Croatian, Slovene: nogomet
in Croatian, the word is derived from "noga" (meaning "leg") and "met", which is a suffix derived from the word "metati" (meaning "to sweep"), hence "sweeping the ball using legs". In Slovene, "noga" has the same meaning as in Serbian and Croatian, while "met" means "throw", hence "throwing (the ball) with legs".
  • Polish: piłka nożna
  • In Hungarian futball or labdarúgás (meaning ball-kicking), but foci is used in the common language.
  • In Burma, where the game was introduced in the 1880s by Sir George Scott, it is called ball-pwe, a pwe being a rural all-night dance party, something like a rave.
  • In Vietnamese, the term "bóng đá" is used to denote "football". Its literal meaning is "kicking ball".
  • In Malay, the sport is called "bola sepak" which is a combination of the words ball (bola) and kick (sepak), while in Indonesia, the term, "sepak bola" is use. Both literally means kick ball but it is translated to "football" in English. The word "soccer" is rarely used in these two countries.Template:Citation needed
  • In Korea, the Sino-Korean derived term chukku (蹴球 축구 Template:IPA-ko) is used.

Other terminologyEdit

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. Also, words derived from kick has found their way into German (noun Kicker) and Swedish (verb kicka). In France le penalty means a penalty kick, however the phrase tir au but is often used in the context of a penalty shootout. In Brazilian Portuguese, because of the pervasive presence of football in Brazilian culture, many words related to the sport have found their way into everyday language, including the verb chutar (from shoot) – which originally meant "to kick a football", but is now the most widespread equivalent of the English verb "to kick". In Bulgaria penalty kick is called duzpa (дузпа, from French words douze pas – twelve steps).

References and notesEdit

  1. Rogers, Martin. "It’s football to you, soccer to me"., 1 July 2010
  2. The nickname of the Trinidad & Tobago national team, "The Soca Warriors", refers to a style of music.
  3. Soccer to become football in Australia Sydney Morning Herald. 17 December 2004) "ASA chairman Frank Lowy said the symbolic move would bring Australia into line with the vast majority of other countries which call the sport football"
  4. NZ Football – The Local Name Of The Global Game ( 27 April 2006) "The international game is called football and were part of the international game so the game in New Zealand should be called football".
  6. except in French Canada where it is soccer
  7. The calque balompié, from the words "balón" (ball) and "pie" (foot), is seldom used
  8. the sport was initially called ritnitop (ритнитоп, "kickball") as it was introduced in the 1890s; footballers are still sometimes mockingly called ritnitopkovtsi (ритнитопковци, "ball kickers") today.
  9. Lviv-based Ukrainian language before the World War II used have word kopanyi myach (копаний м'яч) for football