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Soccer vs. Football: The debate in the United States prior to the World Cup

As the biggest sporting event in the world approaches there has been a dilemma in the US regarding the name of the sport.

Former Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham (L) and his wife Victoria Bekcham pose beside his newly unveiled statue at the Legends Plaza in Carson, California on March 2, 2019. - Beckham played for the Los Angeles Galaxy from 2007 until 2012. (Phot

Football was first first drawn up at the University of Cambridge in England in the eighth century and since then it has evolved to the sport we all know now. However, in the United States the sport was introduced as soccer in the years following the Civil War with Princeton and Rutgers Universities engaging in the first intercollegiate match on November 6, 1876 in New Jersey, with Rutgers winning 6-4.

The United States is not alone, because in Canada, Australia and Ireland they call it soccer, but in the rest of the world it is called football. For example in the US, football is the sport that Tom Brady keeps dominating since 2000. American football was first played on November 29, 1894 and since then it has become the most popular sport in the country.

The history behind the word soccer

The majority of people think the word soccer was created in America, but it originated from the British. As the popularity of football was growing in England, another sport was emerging that was then called rugby football, named after an English boarding school, and it was played under the same rules as the Football Association (FA).

Rugby Football was a sport that allowed players to carry the ball with their hands and run with it towards the goal. As time passed, around 1880 the University of Oxford changed the wordings of the sport to distinguish them. They coined rugby football ‘rugger’ and association football ‘assoccer.’ The term changed throughout the years and it eventually was shortened to soccer, sometimes even spelled socker, and the nickname spread quickly.

It was not until the 20th century that ‘rugger’ became known as rugby and association football was known as football in Great Britain. When the sport arrived in the United States in the 19th century, the American association-football players adopted the word soccer to refer to the sport. It was not until 1945 that the organizing body of American soccer changed its name to the United States Soccer Football Association.

As the sport started to grow in America the organizing body got rid of the word football altogether to stick with just soccer. Fast forwarding to today, we are a few days away from the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the debate continues. The company Frito-Lay released a commercial on November 15 with David Beckham and Peyton Manning trying to end once and for all dilemma between soccer and football, and at the end both words are correct.


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