Why is it called soccer?
Wordymology is a series in which the editors at The Free Dictionary explore the origins of the names of things.
Soccer or Football?
Whether you call it “football” or “soccer,” the “beautiful game” has been around for a long time.
The first recorded soccer game was likely played in 217 CE. It took place in Derby, England, on Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) as part of a celebration of a victory over Roman troops. By 1175, the Shrove Tuesday soccer game was happening annually.
Over time, different forms of the game took shape in England, including a particularly rough version in the Middle Ages that drew royal attempts to ban it. Two games eventually became most popular—one consisted primarily of kicking the ball, while the other (created at England’s Rugby School) allowed players to carry the ball and tackle each other.
After the emergence of rugby in the 19th century, there arose a need to differentiate the two sports, and thus The London Football Association was born. The sport that focused primarily on kicking became known as “association football” (a name that lives in on in the acronym FIFA).
Eventually, in some places, the name became “soccer,” based on the abbreviation “assoc.” Yes, really.
What’s your favorite soccer-related word?
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