Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Soccer and Football….It’s Only a Word

dwyerscullion.jpgIt’s Only a Word

“Why would I buy one of your products when you don’t even know what the game’s called?”

So reads a response I received to an email marketing one of our weekly subscription services. In fact, I’ve edited that down to remove one or two expletives. This respondant was – you guessed it – English, and he/she was upset at our use of the word “soccer” rather than “football”.

I’ve heard the same sentiment voiced by respected radio journalists, one high profile match commentator intoning the word “soccer” in a syrupy and exaggerated American accent.

For the purposes of this posting I’m going to stick to my guns and use the word “soccer”. I’m Irish and was raised to refer to the Beautiful Game as “football”. But I’m comfortable using the word soccer. I have absolutely no problem with it.

Readers with a slightly wider world view will be aware that the reason we at Better Soccer Coaching use the expression is because we are an online publisher with a global market and a huge proportion of that market play a game called soccer.

That game has the same rules, the same beauty, passion, excitement, thrills and spills as what we in England insist on referring to as football. They love it just as much as we do. They may not have been playing it for quite as long, and they may not have the same proud tradition of freezing cold stadiums selling poisonous pies and watery beer, but they love the game just as much.

As I mentioned I was brought up in Ireland playing Gaelic football, basketball and football. In the last 12 months, working at Better Soccer Coaching and dealing with coaches from around the world I’ve grown used to using the expression soccer. So much so that it’s started to slip into my daily conversation. However, when I say “soccer” to my fellow coaches at my local club I’m treated with a combination of ridicule and scorn. Clearly, I know nothing about the game.

But we’re all coaches. We share the same values and ambitions for our players and our teams. Whether we refer to the game as soccer or football makes not a jot of difference. In the UK and Europe we borrow liberally from American culture in music, fashion, art, cinema and lifestyle (McDonald’s anyone? – a significant sponsor of grassroots football – I mean, soccer – in the UK).

You can bet your bottom dollar (pun intended) that when Manchester Utd and Arsenal play an exhibition match in Boston or Los Angeles they will be perfectly happy to market the event as a soccer match.

But culture is culture and you can’t change it overnight. For those UK and European coaches who baulk at the word soccer, maybe the thing to do is build a website just for them. Watch this space.


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I commented on the word “soccer” in a post but i certainly wasnt offensive or overly negative it was just said “tongue in cheek” so i hope what i said wasnt misunderstood??????????

Comment by swift1

Thanks again. I absolutely understand that your comment was tongue in cheek, as was my article, and I certainly didn’t take it as offensive or negative. Quite the contrary. Funnily enough, I write the post just before I saw your comment. We’re clearly coming from the same place and I really look forward to hearing your comments on future posts.


Comment by soccercoachblog

Nice article! It does not bother me at all to use the word Football or Soccer according to the audience or location. Companies do the same, and this ties to your point about European clubs touring in the US, using the word Soccer in their commercial tools. EA’s football game in North America is “FIFA 0X Soccer” right?

Comment by Karl Lusbec

Im an English coach, and I can refer to both soccer and football as well, the reason being is there are several games called football, you have american football, and aussie rules football, in europe football is football, but to save any form of misunderstanding, when I talk to coaches or people outside europe I always refer to it as soccer, whats in the name??? nothing its a beautiful game

Comment by Simon Fryer

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