We originally published this blog in June 2010, but in honor of the World Cup, we are revisiting the subject.
If you’re reading this in the U.S. or Canada, then maybe you love soccer. If you’re reading this pretty much anywhere else, then perhaps you love football.
One person’s idea of a cute habit is responsible for the most popular sport in the world having two names.
One person’s idea took off so wildly that it dictates what millions of people call the game being played at the Super Bowl.
Let’s start in England in the 19th century. Kids played their own versions of football however they felt like it. A bunch of private schools got together to standardize the rules, which of course led to lots of arguing. The arguments gave birth to two games: Rugby football (named after a school called Rugby) and Association football, after the Football Association.
Enter a fellow named Charles Wreford-Brown, one of Association football’s early heroes. Brown was fond of a slang fad called an Oxford-er (like a vintage version of today’s “izzle“ craze.) It works like this: you shorten a word and add “-er” on the end. Breakfast becomes “brekker.” Rugby is “rugger.”
Association football was called “footer,” but Brown had a different idea. He took the word Association, chopped off the A, sliced off the -iation from sociation and called it “soccer” instead. Weird, but true. It may not be the most logical name in the history of sports, but his influence is one of the reasons we don’t have footer leagues today. And if we did play footer instead of soccer, what would we call playing footsy?
What exactly does hike, as in “hut, hut, hike” mean? Find out.
Since American football (based on rugby) had already taken off by the time Association football became popular in the U.S., soccer stuck. The truth is, however, that soccer wasn’t universally accepted over football in the U.S. for a long time. The governing body for soccer in the U.S. was called the United States Soccer Football Association until 1974.