Football, or soccer, has been around for centuries with its roots dating back over 2,000 years ago, but it was not until 1863 that England’s Football Association (the FA) cemented the sport’s full name of Association Football when they established the game’s first rules.
Ebenezer Morley spearheaded the idea “that football should have a set of rules in the same way that the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) had them for cricket” … unifying the game under a consistent set of rules and regulations.
The addition of the word association was to prevent confusion with other popular forms of football played at that time, most notably rugby football.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “linguistically creative students at the University of Oxford in the 1880s distinguished between the sports of rugger (rugby football) and ‘assoccer’ (association football).
“The latter term was further shortened to “soccer” (sometimes spelled “socker”), and the name quickly spread beyond the campus.”
By the time association football and its round ball made its way across the Atlantic, American Football was already the popular game claiming the name of football.
Unlike association football, American football is a game played mostly with one’s hands and uses an oval ball.
Fast forward to 1974 and the United States Soccer Football Association (USSFA) – the sport’s governing body in the US – distanced itself from the word football by changing its name to the United States Soccer Federation, commonly referred to as the USSF (US Soccer).
By the 1980s, the term soccer became less and less favored by the British as the word to describe the global sport and today is rarely used throughout the United Kingdom and also for much of the world.