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Semafor LogoJ.D. Capelouto
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Is it soccer or football? USA vs England game kicks off debate

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Title iconThe Debate

The men's World Cup match between the United States and England on Friday has rekindled a fierce linguistic debate. Is the true name of the sport "soccer" or "football"?

Title iconKnow More

FIFA billed the high-stakes game as "Football v Soccer."

The British and American ambassadors to Saudi Arabia also capitalized on the lighthearted rivalry over the sport's name.

A Doritos ad that played during Friday's match had England's ex-soccer star David Beckham arguing with former U.S. football player Peyton Manning over whether it was football or soccer.

Title iconThe View From England

"There’s no way we lose to a country that call football, "soccer"," English YouTuber and rapper KSI tweeted Friday.

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The name "football" came first. The term "soccer" emerged in England in the late 1800s, after students at the University of Oxford chose to call the sport "association football" to differentiate it from "rugby football." Association football was later shortened to "soccer" and rugby football became what's now known as "rugby."

But the term soccer "never became much more than a nickname in Great Britain," according to Brittanica.

Title iconThe View From The U.S.

Meanwhile, the sport known as American football began to take off in the U.S. in the late 1800s. It was first known as "gridiron football" and was later shortened to just "football."

With that term taken, "American association-football players increasingly adopted "soccer" to refer to their sport," per Brittanica.

Outside Friday's match, U.S. fans chanted "It's called soccer" as a rallying cry:

Title iconNow What?

The U.S. and England tied 0-0 Friday. The U.S. can only advance to the next round of the tournament if it defeats Iran on Tuesday.

Title iconContact

Want to pass along a tip or feedback? Write to J.D. at jcapelouto@semafor.com.

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