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Soccer or Football

June 16th, 2006

Over at Crooked Timber, Kieran Healy raises the vexed question of “Soccer or Football”. I’m firmly in the camp of soccer, or, if you want to get prissy about it, “Association Football”. The various football codes are roughly contemporaneous, and the term football has always been used generically (also to refer to particular codes when there is no great danger of confusion).

If the argument is based on majority usage, the relevant majority for me is among English-speakers in some community of which I am a member. Whether I define this as narrowly as possible (say, people I personally speak to) or as broadly as possible (all English speakers in the world) I don’t get a majority of people using the term “football” to mean “soccer”. I think a claim of this kind is about as justifiable as if the martial arts renamed themselves as just plain “arts” and demanded that the term “art” be used consistently with this.

Quibbles about how much different codes use the feet don’t seem to me to valid, and in any case would not particularly privilege soccer (where the head and hands are used a lot), compared to say, Australian Rules. And the fact that people in non-English speaking countries mainly play soccer and therefore use terms meaning or sounding like football to refer to it cut no ice at all.

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  1. June 16th, 2006 at 12:19 | #1

    Britain (English speakers in the main) use the term Football. Must discount the English language demography as the basis as Rugby Union/League rarely use the ‘foot’ to kick the ball as the common part of the game. US Gridiron is known as football, and you can count on one hand per game the number of times the football is kicked.

    Even in Brazil, ‘soccer’ is call Futbal. And in countries such as Italy, where calcio is the term used, it translates to football.

  2. Bring Back EP at LP
    June 16th, 2006 at 12:28 | #2

    I bought a t-shirt today which says oon the front It’s not soccer mate and on the back it’s football.

    The world calls it football!

  3. milano803
    June 16th, 2006 at 12:32 | #3

    “US Gridiron is known as football, and you can count on one hand per game the number of times the football is kicked.”

    actually, it’s kicked many times. Every time the ball changes hands, which can be 10, 20 times a game the teams kick off to one another. It’s kicked off the begin the game and for field games. The kicker is a hugely important player on a football team, many, many games are won or lost by the kicker.

  4. wilful
    June 16th, 2006 at 12:57 | #4

    This really is a pathetic argument (not a pathetic post). In context, I will call it football with my english mates, and soccer with my Aussie or Yank mates.

    Of course it’s football. But so is Footy. Even gridiron is football (despite the) very limited use of the foot). Rugby is football too. Oh my god, the english language allows the use of the same word for different codes!! Can we cope with the confusion?

    My only problem is how insecure a person must be about their game if you call it soccer and they try to correct you.

  5. June 16th, 2006 at 13:04 | #5

    Call it whatever you want.

    Doing so in domestic Australian media however is in my view a direct and arrogant attack on our culture. Must say I’m surprised at how many lefties are holding the idea of a soccer takeover up as some sort of universalist utopian achievement. Bit like wanting to see starbucks, the international by word for coffee, dominate and convert local cafe culture.

  6. June 16th, 2006 at 13:43 | #6

    Language is designed to elucidate, not confuse. To have a single word (football) with multiple referents (AFL, NRL, FA, NFL) is unhelpful. Instead each code needs its own title: Australian Rules, Rugby League, soccer, gridiron.

    Of course, there is great danger is looking at language as if there is a divine creator at work, maximising utility by creating a one to one relationship between words and referents. Instead it evolves organically, and can find itself with these sorts of ambiguities. Still, it doesn’t hurt to push toward reducing ambiguity.

  7. wilful
    June 16th, 2006 at 14:22 | #7

    “how many lefties”

    Oh give it a break.

  8. Razor
    June 16th, 2006 at 17:05 | #8

    What’s wrong with “wogball”??

  9. June 16th, 2006 at 17:57 | #9

    SBS: “Soccer Broadcasting Service”
    –> Therefore it is “soccer”! 🙂

  10. James Farrell
    June 16th, 2006 at 19:22 | #10

    This is a manufactured controversy if ever there was one. Why is it a vexed question? Unlike Kieran, I’ve never heard any Irish or British person complain about us and the Americans using the word soccer. Sometimes they’ll refer to ‘real football’ just to annoy rugby (or gridiron) fans, but that’s the extent of it.

    I assume, John, that you’re not proposing to try and convert the rest of the world to our terminiology.

  11. June 16th, 2006 at 21:45 | #11

    It doesn’t detract from your point, but I understood the acronym for the network represented “soccer bloody soccer”.
    I see the name issue, as a marketing ploy designed to distance soccer from its chequered past in Australia, while simultaneously trying to stake out territory at the expense of the other codes. This is surely a John O’Neill inspiration.
    I’m an Australian football partisan, although I’m quite interested in soccer – not just this month. Consequently, I’m somewhat ambivalent about the rising popularity of soccer. Martin Flanagan has articulated the point effectively, as symptomatic of the threat of globalisation in its impact on something as culturally specific as Australian Rules.

  12. Alexander McLeay
    June 16th, 2006 at 23:38 | #12

    I’ve heard Americans complain about the Australasian term “gridiron” to refer to what is of course the game god intended to be called “football”. (I recall once being informed that of course American football is the code that “football” should refer to: It’s the only code with only that name for the code! The speaker was completely unawares of our meaning of “gridiron”. I think in America “gridiron” refers to the field it’s played on.)

    What I really dislike (aside from people calling Australian rules football “provincial”) is people calling soccer in Australia “Australian football”.

    James Farrell writes: Unlike Kieran, I’ve never heard any Irish or British person complain about us and the Americans using the word soccer. Sometimes they’ll refer to ‘real football’ just to annoy rugby (or gridiron) fans, but that’s the extent of it.

    I’d never heard it happening before, either, till one day on an page in Wikipedia on an Australian topic, I changed “football (soccer)” into “soccer”: I usually go through and change disambig links without pipes to ones with. Didn’t think for a second anyone would have a problem with that—boy was I wrong! (And the way I was informed of that has more than a little offensive. If the others had’ve nicely informed me of the situation, I would’ve accepted it. But now I have a very nasty taste in my mouth about the use of the word “football” for “soccer”.)

    I’ve also found in Wikipedia any number of people who don’t accept that “football” means “the most common code of football played in an area” (or words to that extent); instead, it only means to them, no matter where on earth you are, “soccer”, and any other use is wrong.

    Seriously, spend a bit of time on WP soccer pages. [[WP:CIVIL]] means nothing to some people. (IRL people are usually much nicer though.)

  13. Gaby
    June 17th, 2006 at 00:49 | #13

    I’m with James on this one. What a silly debate! Especially when one is currently watching Argentina tear Serbia apart with some wonderful play!

    “What’s in a name?” I’m not sure about roses, but I know that soccer is as beautiful called such or whatever else… Although crass administrators in Italy are doing their best to cheapen “calcio”.

    It just doesn’t matter to me. And in deference to local usage I call it “soccer”, just to clearly distinguish it from local viral forms. Not a big one.

    It’s only a vexed question for those boosters of mutant forms of footballs who want to trade off of soccer’s world status as the “beautiful game”.

    As an aside, soccer is probably the most globalized industries there is, especially in terms of the free trade in labour. And I remember reading somewhere that FIFA has more member nations than the UN. Says something about the relative importance of diplomacy against the billowing of backs of nets. Hats off to Bill Shankley.

    And John’s arguments are weak and silly. He is forgetting soccer is the world game and called “football”, as was commented above. I don’t see why English speakers should matter so much.

    Forgetting about heading (which is a very difficult skill to execute well), use of hands in soccer compared to AFL comparable? Come on! Other than the goalie? I don’t think field players count given that the ball is only being brought into play.

    AFL could usefully be renamed “truffle hunting” as much of the game consists of players on their hands and knees trying to get the pill out from the bottom of packs.

    And other than NSW and Qld does anyone else call rugby “footie”?

    The point about “martial arts” has got me beat.

  14. Con
    June 17th, 2006 at 04:32 | #14

    Good book to read is Frank Foer: How Soccer Explains the world: An unlikely theory of globalization.

    Since when did football er soccer bugger it football become so trendy with the intelligentsia? Its like the new ‘ipod’ of world sport!! Even here in the US where on average you really dont get to see much on soccer/football there seems to be an interest particularly with liberal intellectuals. Oh well at least it beats the bigoted skinheads that abused me when I has playing a generation ago.

    And funny how the ratbags of gridiron, aussie rules and union seem to be genuinely bemused by all this interest in the game.

  15. Gaby
    June 17th, 2006 at 08:53 | #15

    I’ve read it Con. Not bad. Lacks a little feel for the nuances of the game and has a few slightly irritating errors but I agree it was a good enough Christmas read.

  16. jquiggin
    June 17th, 2006 at 11:58 | #16

    If we want to define football in a priori terms, I would say that the central point is that each side tries to kick goals (IIRC, a ‘try’ in the rugby codes originally meant a try at kicking a goal and had no point value of its own). Since aussie rules, unlike soccer, requires that goals be kicked and not touched or headed, it comes closest to meeting this criterion. But of course, this only illustrates the pointlessnes of arguing in this way.

    My main point is to object to the kind of linguistic chauvinism noted by Alexander McLeay, which I’ve also seen on the rise in Australia. I’m happy enough to watch any kind of football, but I don’t want to be told that there is some sort of global order stating that the codes I grew up with are not football.

    An interesting aside to all this is that organisationally, soccer is, I think, the most thoroughly capitalist of the football codes. There’s nothing to stop a wealthy club, in the English or Scottish leagues at least, buying up all the good players and this seems to be approximately what happens, so the same clubs stay on top for decades on end. In Scotland in particular, all the teams except Rangers and Celtic seem to be there just to make up the numbers.

  17. Paul Norton
    June 17th, 2006 at 12:02 | #17

    I think the preciousness of association football supporters in Australia on the football/soccer debate has to be seen in the context of their not-quite-convincing evangelical triumphalism about Australia making a World Cup finals series of 32 countries (which is a more modest achievement than John Warren & Co. making the final 16 in 1974). It is a similar mentality to that of the euphoria of the 98 pound weakling who gets his Bullworker in the mail and can begin his quest for vengeance on the beach bully.

    The serious cultural issue is why association football monocultures were established in non-Anglo countries to which the game was exported, but neither in its country of origin (Great Britain) where it became the majority code but not the exclusively dominant one, nor in the rest of the Anglosphere (notably Australasia and North America) where it has always had minority status vis-a-vis the rugby codes and/or the national Australian, US and Canadian ones.

    The answer to this question, it seems to me, has at least something to do with the liberal pluralism of the Anglosphere in which (to paraphrase Voltaire) we are comfortable having forty-two religions, a multiplicity of political parties and several football codes, even if we only have one sauce. By contrast, a number of countries in which everyone follows the same football code are also places where everyone goes to the same church (or mosque) and everyone votes for the same political party.

    If this theory is correct, Australia’s soccer boosters can expect a protracted period of some decades of post-World Cup coexistence, and scrapping for supporter conversions at the margins, with the AFL and the rugby codes.

  18. James Farrell
    June 17th, 2006 at 19:18 | #18


    You refer to “the preciousness of association football supporters in Australia”. The only example so far is the quarrel Alexander cited, which he himself started.

    And please tell me what precautions I should take next time I want to celebrate some Australian achivement in international sport, to ensure my joy won’t be interpreted as evangelical triumphalism. Aren’t you being a little mean spirited?

    As for your football monoculture theory, it’s not in the least bit convincing. Non-anglo countries have just as much sporting variety as anglo ones, whether they are culturally pluralist or not. Australians don’t play much ice hockey or handball – does this prove that we’re more culturally regimented than, say, the Czechs?

    Your outburst, and to some extent John’s post, reflect a definite underlying hostility to soccer. Why don’t you examine this and spell out the reasons for your anxiety more explicitly.

  19. Alexander McLeay
    June 17th, 2006 at 19:52 | #19

    The only example so far is the quarrel Alexander cited, which he himself started.

    I started no quarrel. I thought I was correcting an error of the sort frequently found in Wikipedia pages. (My assumption at the time was it originally said “[[soccer]]”, someone avoided the redir by changing it to “[[football (soccer)]]” and so I thought I was finishing the job by changing it to “[[football (soccer)|soccer]]”. Seems I was wrong, but I did not start a quarrel.)

    However, I do agree with you about some aspects of Paul’s theory. Seems to me that Proportional representation is much more common in countries in which soccer is the overwhelmingly dominant/only code of football, whereas in Anglo/non-soccer-dominant countries, two and three party systems are the norm.

    BTW: How does Soccer versus Canadian Football fair in Quebec?

  20. Gaby
    June 17th, 2006 at 20:49 | #20

    John, I agree that this issue is pointless as I said before. But it betokens underlying “hostilities and anxieties” as James said, but I think they are bilateral in also applying to the “soccer is football” lobby.

    I’m relaxed and comfortable that my preference of “football” is a wonderful thing. This doesn’t preclude me watching, and enjoying other forms to some extent. Adherents of other codes should be too.

    But if one were to define “football” a priori, I think a better starting point than how goals are scored is a game played principally with one’s feet, including tackling, as a starting stipulative definition. The fact that players’ ingenuity is such that every other part of the body can also be used, except for the hands and arms but including shoulders, only adds to its richness and irreducible spontenaity.

    I agree on football capitalism.

    Its economics would be an interesting study. There is a global market for talent. A large part involves a star system. I understand life in clubs for players is quite “red in tooth and claw”. Stars have huge value in commodization potential. Invariably the monoponsist “really big” clubs are owned by impressarios who do it I think mainly for cachet and status. Think of Juve (the Agnelli), Milan (Berlusconi), Inter, Real, and of course now “Chelski”. I think Man U is a bit of an exception until recently as it was about the only club which was a success on the stock market.

  21. Gaby
    June 17th, 2006 at 20:51 | #21

    John, I agree that this issue is pointless as I said before. But it betokens underlying “hostilities and anxieties” as James said, but I think they are bilateral in also applying to the “soccer is football” lobby.

    I’m relaxed and comfortable that my preference of “football” is a wonderful thing. This doesn’t preclude me watching, and enjoying other forms to some extent. Adherents of other codes should be too.

    But if one were to define “football” a priori, I think a better starting point than how goals are scored is a game played principally with one’s feet, including tackling, as a starting stipulative definition. The fact that players’ ingenuity is such that every other part of the body can also be used, except for the hands and arms but including shoulders, only adds to its richness and irreducible spontenaity.

    I agree on football capitalism. And it does cause a problem. See the current crisis in Italy at the moment. Although Hearts did upset the script a little this year in Scotland.

    Its economics would be an interesting study. There is a global market for talent. A large part involves a star system. I understand life in clubs for players is quite “red in tooth and claw”. Stars have huge value in commodization potential. Invariably the monoponsist “really big” clubs are owned by impressarios who do it I think mainly for cachet and status. Think of Juve (the Agnelli), Milan (Berlusconi), Inter, Real, and of course now “Chelski”. I think Man U is a bit of an exception until recently as it was about the only club which was a success on the stock market.

  22. sdfc
    June 17th, 2006 at 23:20 | #22

    Gaby in case you don’t know AFL is a league not a code of football.

    If you doubt Australian Football’s right to be referred to football in the country, regardless of what other codes want to refer to themselves as, I suggest you check out Wiki’s list of the worlds oldest football clubs.

  23. Con
    June 18th, 2006 at 07:20 | #23

    So why are all the other codes so concerned about football? hm let me see, global, national, lucrative and when played well, free flowing. The rest of the wrold will call it football and as we go gobal we will call it football. Other codes can co-exist and survive as all sports have their niche.

    At the margin, a young boy/girl today wants to be Ronaldinho, Beckham, Cahill etc etc. And who could balme them after watching this world cup?

  24. Gaby
    June 18th, 2006 at 09:30 | #24

    Actually sdfc, if you read my earlier comment, I don’t have a problem with AFL being styled “football”. In fact, I call “association football”, as John may want to have it, “soccer”.

    The issue is all very Humpty Dumpty “through the looking glass for me”.

    Re AFL, I understand it is an evolution of gaelic footie in Oz. And I remember reading in some annotations to Joyce’s “Ulysses” that gaelic was self-consciously developed by the Irish as a “national” game in contradistinction to soccer and rugger. Is that right? I’ll go off and wiki now.

    On Humpty.

    Humpty Dumpty faced the wall.
    Humpty Dumpty curved the ball.
    All the team’s forces,
    And all the team’s men
    Couldn’t stop Humpty bending the ball in.

    Ole, ole, ole!!!

  25. sdfc
    June 18th, 2006 at 16:55 | #25


    I did read your earlier comment that is why specifically informed you that AFL is a league, which dates from the 1987 expansion of the old VFL. Football the code predates it by about 130 years. From roughly the same time as the rules to soccer or association football were codified.

  26. SCINNY
    June 18th, 2006 at 18:31 | #26

    Umm you guys have rocks in your head seriously!!! who really gives two hoots about whether its called soccer or football. To me, as a soccer player growing up and still loving and watching the game, it will always be “soccer”.

    Do you know why the europeans call it “futball”? can you imagine trying to learn the word “football” in over 50 different languages? well they need one universal word i.e. ‘futball’ translated from the english ‘football” and now everyone knows what they’re talking about.

    Anyways, calling soccer “football” is sacrilege. It would be like calling rugby league – aussie rules!

    Get a grip people.. soccer is soccer, it falls under the category of “football” but lets not generalise. A rose is a rose, it’s not simply a flower. 😉

    Take care all.

  27. Alexander McLeay
    June 18th, 2006 at 20:17 | #27

    Gaby: Re AFL, I understand it is an evolution of gaelic footie in Oz.

    I assume you are referring to Australian football, and not the league. I was of the impression it was at least strongly influenced by an Aboriginal sport, and rugby. (I think speccies in particular are meant to come from the Aboriginal sport.) In any case, it couldn’t be an evolution of Gaelic Football because Aussie rules was codified first, and as was mentioned earlier in this thread I think there was some concious considerations to the rules of Gaelic football when it was codified (rather than just taking a game that was already played and writing down the rules of it). Probably Irish forms of football had an influence, though … many of the early players would’ve been Irish immigrants.

    (It’s like trying to find which English dialect is the basis of Australian English, from which our dialect has subsequently diverged. There is none, but many had an influence, some more than others.)

  28. Gaby
    June 18th, 2006 at 20:55 | #28

    Alexander and sdfc, I was just using “AFL” loosely as a current idiomatic synonym for Australian football. And Alexander, thanks for the info on the development of footie. I’ll read more.

    But does “codified” mean that gaelic wasn’t being played? The latter usually precedes the former.

    As an aside, the longest running English language quality soccer magazine I am acauainted with is called “World Soccer”. As a kid it was a great read. Last one I bought I think was for the ’94 World Cup, which should have been another one of Diego’s….

    Not long to our big match. Can’t wait. Japan vs Croatia will be very interesting to watch as the latter were quite impressive against Brasil. They will be a stern test for us to qualify to the knock out stage.

    I think we are very lucky that we have the chance to test our mettle against the best in the world. And I think the Socceroos will do us proud. They are a tight unit who play for and with each other. They realize that there is a lot at stake.

    Brasil know that winning would mean qualification so they will be up for it. They have a a fearsome midfield and attack. We need to keep a tight leash on Adriano, Ronaldinho and especially Kaka on his showing the other night. Any of these can devastate you with a flick of the hips and a body sweve.

    But Brazil does have weaknesses in defence. Cafu and Roberto Carlos, while great players, are not the best or tightest defenders. Viduka has the class and skill to give Lucio and the other central defendere a torrid time.

    Here’s hoping for an Aussie win. And if not a 2-2 draw, as goals count if goal difference is tied!

  29. dave
    June 18th, 2006 at 21:08 | #29


    Technically, a win for Brazil might not be enough for qualification. If Japan beat Croatia and then Brazil, and Australia beat Croatia, then Aus, Bra and Jap will be tied on 6 points each and goal difference, then goals scored, then lots, will be decisive.

    (OK, it’s a long shot!)

    Anyway, have a look for me in the crowd. I’ll be wearing gold and green …

  30. Gaby
    June 19th, 2006 at 01:20 | #30

    Have your luck Dave. Hope you have a great game.

    Very long shot now with the Japan v. Croatia draw. Good for us.

    Though isn’t it head to head before lots?

  31. Alexander McLeay
    June 19th, 2006 at 01:50 | #31

    Gaby gabs: But does “codified� mean that gaelic wasn’t being played? The latter usually precedes the former.

    I think I mentioned that, maybe not directly. Obviously football was being played in Ireland, and obviously the later sport Gaelic Football was based on what was played, but it wasn’t Gaelic Football per se. Perhaps this is being pedantic. As I (and someone else in this thread) said, it is my understanding the Gaelic Football involved some rules specifically chosen to make it more Irish and less English. So the Australian & Gaelic Footballs might have come from the same source (Irish football), but Australian can’t have come from Gaelic.

    But that wasn’t really my main point, which was that Australian football has been influenced by Rugby and TMK a form of Aboriginal football as well as Irish football. So it’s not true that it’s the local evolution of Irish football; it is a mixing pot of sources.

    Interesting about World Soccer. But of course, “soccer” was the English English term at one stage, so maybe not so surprising…

  32. dave
    June 19th, 2006 at 19:01 | #32

    yes, but with 6 points each among three teams the head to head will by definition be even (since everyone has beaten the fouth placed team and must have taken turns beating each other).
    But it is true that after the head-to-head points there is also a filter of head-to-head goal difference and head-to-head goals scored before lots would be used.

    Game was amazing btw, very lucky to have been there …

  33. Gaby
    June 19th, 2006 at 21:35 | #33

    Dave, yes a great game. Our two so far have been two of the best of the tournament.

    We deserved better and played wonderfully. The 2-0 score flatters them. I can’t see Brazil winning as they have a few weaknesses which will be exploited.

    We were tactically very well placed in that we were able to stifle Adriano, Ronaldinho and Kaka for most of the game. They were left to shoot from outside of the box and to run with the ball from fairly deep.

    Neill was a tower of strength in defence. My man of the match. Viduka toiled hard and did some lovely things. Emmerton and Grella battled hard. Kewell and Bresciano were very effective when they came on.

    Terrific how we took the game to them and bested them after going one down. Some heart stopping moments in front of goal. Why o why could one of those shots have plonked in?

    Hiddink’s substitutions were spot on again. He really is an astute coach. And he has melded a very good side in a very short time. It’s also good to see a coach who really fights for his players from the sidelines. That does give you a lift on the field.

    Btw, I thought the refereeing was absolutely woeful. Merk the Jerk. What a wanker, as I’m sure that Kewell told him. Many of the freekicks he gave against us were ludicrous.

    When will FIFA realize that they must stop tampering with the interpretation of the rules just in the Finals? And all of this yellow card nonsense?

    But then Blatter and co. have no real feel for the game. Sepp mainly likes the gravy train, ice hockey and women in suspenders. I’m not sure of his position on stay ups. May be on the FIFA site or wiki though.

    And my final rant, the effing ball?!! It doesn’t bend easily, too many crosses are way overhit and shots balloon high over the bar for a 6 pointer. Just play with the Adidas Champions League ball. That’s a beauty.

    And the “jogo bonito” ads are a great laugh!

  34. Con
    June 21st, 2006 at 00:08 | #34

    Jack Kemp – the right wing nutter in the US apologised for calling soccer socialist. In fact the back handed apology still referenced to his conclusion that it is boring but not ‘socialist’. Actually in another blog at The New Republic it was stated at Hayek 1 Kemp 0.

    Anyway Gaby it looks like the teams doing well in this world cup seem to have the most effective ‘holding midfielders’ feeding and defending for the team. Something England has yet to work out despite spending over $20 million on the ex seria A, Swede Eriksson.

  35. Gaby
    June 22nd, 2006 at 10:45 | #35

    Con, on midfielders, it was ever thus, although forgotten by many coaches recently.

    Playing midfield is probably the most difficult position. Good midfielders have to be the most varied players: good both in defence and attack. Generally, their first job is to stifle the opposition’s creative players and shield their defence. Thus they have to be good tacklers. They must also be creative, have vision and be good passers and headers as well as dribblers. Then they must link up with the attack to support the strikers. Having a good shot helps.

    I think England has one of the best midfields: Cole, Lampard, Gerrard and Beckham is a pretty formidable lineup. And easily the best part of their team. These guys have to adapt a little, as you are right, England doesn’t have a classic “ball winner” in midfield a la Gattuso. But I think they aren’t strictly necessary.

    I reckon what many coaches have forgotten in favour of ball winners is that they also need creative midfielders and not just “wing backs” who fulfill this role. The latter leads to repetitive and predictable attacks. Creativity is the probably a midfielder’s most important asset.

    Haven’t heard of Jack Kemp. Plays right wing for the Palaeocons? Best way to fix him is a crunching tackle very early in the game from the Social Democrats’ left back that sends him flying on to the dog track. That should quieten any exuberance for the rest of the match…

    Big game for the Socceroos tonight. I think we will come away with at least a draw. But Croatia are to be respected and they can be mercurial.
    My gut tells me a 2-1 Aussie win.

  36. Bring Back EP at LP
    June 22nd, 2006 at 12:52 | #36

    The trouble with England is that there is neither a worker in the midfield like a Makele or a creative type like Riquelme. Both Lampard and Gerrard cancel each other out and Beckham is the most over=rated crosser of a ball I have ever come across.

    That is why England is no hope. The Argies look very good. My only problem is whether they have peaked too early.

    I think Ghana’s pace will overcome Brazil in the second round.

    Australia playing Italy would be grand

  37. Gaby
    June 22nd, 2006 at 16:39 | #37

    Agree. Italy vs Australia would be wonderful.

    Italy vs Czech Republic is too close to call. I think Italy will shade them provided they come out to play, but only because of the players that the Czech’s have out.

    [email protected], I think you are being hard on Becks. Viz., 40m cross to Crouch for first goal against T&T. Another one to same in Paraguay game.

    As I said above, I think the ball is contributing.

    You are right about no creative midfielder. But when was the last one? Hoddle or Gazza? Enger-land’s style is such that they don’t play with one.

  38. Con
    June 23rd, 2006 at 03:44 | #38

    I agree with [email protected] on this. Becks is a bit past it and riquelme is just as good a deal ball player. Gaby I personally think England’s midfield is a mess. Lampard and Gerrard do not work, cole is good and becks is below par. My midfield would be 5 with Carrick and Hargreaves as the defensive midfielders, cole on the right, lennon on the left and Gerrard upfront. Lampard misses out and rooney as the lone striker.

    Argentina has by far the best midfield combo and to top it off excellent defenders and strikers. If we can’t win then I hope the argies win it purely playing their best football.

  39. James Farrell
    June 23rd, 2006 at 08:08 | #39

    ‘Australia playing Italy would be grand.’


  40. James Farrell
    June 23rd, 2006 at 08:20 | #40

    Managed to post prematurely again. That was going to be:

    Aye, it will.

    My God, I almost bit fingernails off in the last ten minutes.

    That game was definitely Australia’s worst of the three. The Socceroos were too flat-footed and slow on the challenge, did far too much back-pedalling in the midfield, and made too many sloppy passes.

    But Kewell came good when it counted.

    Without wanting to seem in any way evangelistic, triumphalist or, worse still, evangelistically triumphalist, could I just be permitted an ever-so-modest….. Hooray!!!!!!!

  41. Bring Back EP at LP
    June 23rd, 2006 at 08:39 | #41

    ole, ole,ole,ole,ole,oleo.

    What did I say!!

    Playing Italy is fantastic, I just hope we get a decent referee.

    We were the best side.
    Guus selecting Kala shows he isn’t a genius but a bloody good coach

  42. Gaby
    June 23rd, 2006 at 09:18 | #42

    Another great Aussie result!!! We were brilliant and easily had the best of the game. Our third game and another among the best of the tournament. And we always come out to play soccer unlike this crap of playing to defend a result.

    Played against the ref yet again! We should have had 2 penalties and the Emerton yellows were FIFA jokes. The World Cup is not about some idea of a wanker who has never played of “fair play” or “clean soccer”. It’s about hard, competitive, elite socer. I’m buggered if I know how Poll can get near a World Cup game given he is such an atrocious ref.

    We can do Italy. They were very ordinary again last night. And they will fear us and at the same time try to intimidate us.

    And eff me, but FIFA gave Merk another match! They have to be joking. Match decided by a Merk error, a merkor, when he gave Ghana a non-existent penalty. Is it just incompetence or do we need to consider a conspiracy theory about the composition of the round of 16?…..

    Con, agree about Riquelme and Argentina. The latter were my pre-tournament pick. And Riquelme is a connoisseur’s player who was hard done by at Barca. Saw him in two World Club Cups and he was superb.

    But disagree about your suggestion re England’s midfield. 5 is too many and with one striker not enough, England will never score, which is the name of the game in the knock-out stage.

    Carrick, Hargreaves and Lennon are not the same quality as the others. I don’t think Beckham is past it. Far from it. Just not at his best at the moment.

    As I said my quartet would have to adapt a little. Gerrard could slot in a little deeper than Lampard and even play the Italian “regista” role a la Pirlo, central midfielder just in front ot the central stoppers. Great position for SG to use his excellent distribution of the ball, especially his long passes

    Both are good defensively and tacklers. Also both like to go forward and score regularly. So one would have to cover the other so as not to be left vulnerable to a quick counter attack.

    Unfortunately, England will have to play Rooney and Crouch. Rooney will slot into a “mezza punta” (literally “half point”) role (Italian is so much more expressive when it comes to describing soccer and its tactics), where with his incisive dribbling, he can be very damaging.

    England need to find more fluidity in their attacks as they are too predictable. Their players need to interchange more. This is a problem for the Dutch too.

    Anyway, its a bright sunny morning here in Adelaide. As I look out my window, all I can see is beautiful green and gold leaves….


  43. mm
    June 25th, 2006 at 02:30 | #43

    If you put this in context and inquire where this nickname for football is coming from, you will find your answer. After that you can color it to fit what you want to believe.

    Some people say I don’t care what it is called, well call it football then. The double standard here is that the ones who claim they don’t care what it’s called; they address the game as ‘soccer’. Well, we might as well change the name of ‘other types of football’ to something that better suits what is actually being done in the field to avoid confusions. What’s the problem? I don’t care what ‘american football’ is called, to give an example…

    Now it is football association not association football, there is a difference and misconception here. By the way, “soccer” was not a generalized word used by everybody at the end of the 1800s in England to refer to football. As a matter of fact there is not really evidence that it was used outside a couple of schools for more than a few years if at all. This is why in England it is now called football not soccer (among other names…) and this is why it was translated as football in every other language.

    What is evident is that ‘soccer’ is a word that the US media and ‘american football’ organizations in particular are promoting to differentiate what we call football from their form of ‘football’. They are using the argument of football being called ‘soccer’ at its inception as a widely known fact, which is wrong and simplistic and they rest of the world is apparently following suit.

    I grew up calling the sport football; it simply does not make sense to call it ‘soccer’. The world calls it football.

  44. Con
    June 26th, 2006 at 09:52 | #44

    Its going to be a huge day on Monday. I watched the last game at the consulate in New York and it was amazing to see so many aussies following the game.

    Bring on Italy and Scwarzer back in goal. I think this will be a great game for Viduka to break his goal drought.

    I also thought England looked better with Carrick and perhaps they can drop lampard for a striker.

  45. June 27th, 2006 at 23:12 | #45


    Losing to itally was unbelievblve

  46. Chris
    June 29th, 2006 at 09:20 | #46

    “Anyways, calling soccer “footballâ€? is sacrilege. It would be like calling rugby league – aussie rules!”

    How the hell is calling ‘soccer’ football sacrilege, it is the original name of the sport. Soccer was a word made up which mean association, and thats a fact. Being an Englishman i’ve been brought up playing, supporting and loving the game of football. In England their seems to be more of a sense of patriotism in supporting your football club. You dont support the best team (well some do) you support your home town. Im from York and i have supported york city all my life. Even though they have been relegated twice since i’ve been suppoting them and have dropped into the conference (the fifth tier of English football). Thier is still over 3,000 fans who turn up week in and week out to support their club. And it is like this throughout the whole country. In america it seems that if a team is doing rubbish you stop supporting them. And the fact there is only 1 league and no relegation or promotion makes it quite boring.

    And how is calling soccer football, anything like calling Aussie rules rugby league. They are 2 completly different sports. Football and soccer are the same sport.
    Anyhoo England are gonna win the world cup eventhough they have been playing rubbish, because we are mint. 66-06 baby yeah.

  47. Chris
    June 29th, 2006 at 09:23 | #47

    and i agee totally with mm

  48. Pablo
    July 3rd, 2006 at 07:18 | #48

    ” And the fact that people in non-English speaking countries mainly play soccer and therefore use terms meaning or sounding like football to refer to it cut no ice at all”… that’s not a very social-democratic reflexion, pal. Democratic… majority, no? The non-english countries mainly plays FUTBOL, FOOTBALL (en France), Futebol, Calcio (Foot…)… nobody plays soccer, only aussies and yankees, that’s all. The whole Britain plays FOOTBALL, so, how can you keep saying that soccer is the good word? Your arguments cut no ice at all! The code that use feet more than anyother, is this one. The most widely played in the world, is this one. So, you can be as pretentious as you want, in Australia and USA media, and call it soccer… it will still be football for everybody else, in all the languages, even english. Those who prefer to say soccer, are loosers, loosers who are far from being in a quarter final or semifinal, so they try to hide the universality of football. Like trying to hide a wood with a finger. In latinamerica, they dont like americans being called “americans”, because America is the whole continent, not only the 50 states. So they call them ,UnitedStateans… estadounidenses, états-uniens. it will not work besides Latin America because the rest of the world is majority. The same will do for FOOTBALL.

  49. Bring back EP at LP
    July 3rd, 2006 at 21:08 | #49

    go get these sporting xenophobes Palo!

  50. mr.footy
    July 7th, 2006 at 16:24 | #50

    soccer is a perfect in latin socc means foot and cer means big balls so it means socks hit with big balls.

  51. Katz
    July 9th, 2006 at 12:56 | #51

    Perhaps the game could be called synchonised diving.

    Hang on, that name’s already been taken.

    But so what? Soccer is the biggest game in the world, so FIFA can claim any name it wants.

  52. rocky
    July 9th, 2006 at 22:10 | #52

    its soccer baby yup its sounds kool man

  53. Goku
    July 10th, 2006 at 05:40 | #53

    In latin:
    PED=foot, PEDES=Feet. What’s your point bringing latin over to the discussion anyway?

    Football is football simple. The name of the beautifull game. The most followed, practiced, watched sport in the world.

    People from the United States as usual follow their own rules, convinient to them. Call it whatever you want within your country if that pleases you, but when referring to an international audience, the name of the sport is football baby!! Using a forced nickname, simply does not cut it…
    I noticed some people is starting to call ‘american football’ – Armball. I think there is future here… That’s a kool name! Keep it up.

  54. July 18th, 2006 at 13:45 | #54

    Football Fans of Australia!

    Sick and tired of the prejudiced coverage the world game gets in Australia? Sick of ignorant people like John Quiggin?

    Then come and sign this petition!



  55. jquiggin
    July 18th, 2006 at 19:29 | #55

    As a response to the petition linked above, I’ve got no problem if people want it called Association Football; any more than I object to Australian, American, Gaelic Football and so on.

  56. aaron
    July 19th, 2006 at 23:56 | #56

    its football, calling it soccer is an embaressment to australia and puts alot of supporters around the wrld of the world game agains taustralia and anti australian. Leave it at football!

  57. Allan New Zealand
    March 14th, 2007 at 14:20 | #57

    Why not call it Soccer and avoid confusion Football to a kiwi is Rugby to an Aussie its Union /League or Aussie Rules to an American its Gridiron (and they rightly call it Soccer to avoid confusion)Even in Ireland it could be Gaelic..So why call one code Football when so many codes see it as something else. It would be silly nad we dont want to be silly do we!!!!

  58. Holly NZ
    October 11th, 2007 at 09:05 | #58

    i agree that the actual naming of the sport is not important to the game and skill invovled.

    I call it soccer just because i insit that i play soocer not football. I claim that football is this fancy posh game that the professionals play filled with ‘hollywoods’ and on field brawls. but in the end what does it really matter??!! the game takes skill we all know that and whether that skill is heading, kiking, goal keeping or throw ins the game is still the same and i believe that we should stop arguing and just watch/play the game and admire the talent (or acting skills) that football/soccer requires.

    life is short, live it up drink it down and keep playing……..soccer?? football?? WATEVER!!!

  59. ruggedstud
    November 26th, 2007 at 23:09 | #59

    This is a question purely in the minds of american sports press. Americas own sport gridiron has failed to spread itself around the world and thus has become known as gridiron outside of the usa if it is known at all.

    There is and has always been one football. Edward III referred to “football, hockey and handball” making a clear difference between sports using hands and feet. So there is and always will be one football, and I guess lots of inferior copies.

    The whole world calls football football apart from bitter anti football journalists in the usa and some in australia.

    However in australia they now refer to football as football, their fa has changed it’s name to football.

    The name clearly matters to americans as they make it an obsession to try to change the name of a sport they seem to fail in. They have failed yet again, football remains football.

  60. jordyn
    December 16th, 2007 at 08:00 | #60

    In New Zealand we called it soccer for as long as I can remember, but now they’re trying to “be like the rest of the world so they can understand what we’re talking about by saying football instead of soccer”.
    But “football” is such an uncreative name. Foot-ball. Wow. Any game where you kick a ball around could be referred to as “football”. Soccer is a more original name and it suits the game better.

  61. Ailaya
    March 1st, 2008 at 09:04 | #61

    SBS: “Soccer Broadcasting Service�
    –> Therefore it is “soccer�!

    FIFA:”International Federation of Association Football”
    –> Therefore it is “Football�!

    tomayto tomahto—soccer is so widely used in the U.S simply to avoid confusion with american football which is ever so popular in the country—–football is internationally recognized as the official name of the sport and personally i believe the world unifying word ‘football’ holds a bit more substance than ‘soccer’ whether in the caribbean, south america, europe,africa, asia, or even in australia and north america where the name is argued but still undeniably recognized

  62. Hans
    March 4th, 2008 at 13:29 | #62

    It should be (and it has been for years) called Football – but in countries who can play it – I mean if there is at least one world cup star stamped on the shirt.. the rest can still calling it soccer for merchandising proposes – who cares..

  63. Joe
    April 16th, 2008 at 01:14 | #63

    A lot of the comments here re. being played with feet are very likely nonsense, because a lot of historians think the word comes from being played on foot rather than horseback (and has nothing to do with kicking). While we have no conclusive evidence for this explanation, the word football has always implied a variety of games played on foot, not just those that involved kicking a ball. In some cases, the word football has even been applied to games which have specifically outlawed kicking the ball.

  64. Dashingprince
    April 28th, 2008 at 00:37 | #64

    This question seems to be an american obsession.

    The first sport with rules called football is of course football. Invented at cambridge university.

    There are other versions of football. Hence why they have different names infront of them. Rugby football, aussie rules football, american football, gaelic football.

    The fact that these sports have another name infront of them shows they are not football but a variant of football.

    The word soccer was simply a nickname for association football as rugger is for rugby union.

    Some have said that hating football is an ameircan obsession and seeing many articles in newspapers and online I have seen this to be true.

    I am guessing yanks thought the world would be playing baseball or gridiron by now, but no one seems that interested in these steroid sports from what I can see.

    Gridiron has two names …gridiron or american football. Both differentiate it from football so there should be no confusions.

    However with NFL europe going bust I doubt gridiron will ever grow outside of the usa, so there will be no real confusion globally.

    But I guess this hating football obsession will continue to be americas national pastime.

  65. Dashingprince
    April 28th, 2008 at 00:46 | #65

    Football refers to a sport played with the feet.

    Edward II banned handball… hockey and football. All of which are played on foot.

    Handball became rugger, hockey remains hockey and football was codified.

    It seems everyone who like gridiron or rugger hates football almost more than they like these “lesser” versions of football.

    Odd. Maybe I will write a book about football hating, the odd obsession of modern sports.

  66. Dashingprince
    November 2nd, 2008 at 12:28 | #66

    FIFA and the Olympics only accept one football.

    The world knows football as football. In China they call football football and they do in India as well.

    The word football is English and the English call it football. Americans also called football football until they were so bad at it they invented gridiron.

    Football is foot and ball, and thats the end of it.

  67. kiwifella
    March 6th, 2009 at 09:17 | #67

    In NZ if we say we have been to a football match
    its not soccer its rugby..the same would probably
    be true in Australia where football in general coonversation would be league/aussie rules or union …Even in Ireland it could be Gaelic football..In the USA and poss Canada too it would be American Football..i dont think anyone has a divine rite to the word football and without doubt association football is the biggest in the world..but wats wrong with calling it soccer then we all know whats being talked about

  68. March 14th, 2009 at 04:22 | #68

    I am from Brazil and may assure that the correct name is football. England created the sport, and they call football. It is played with the foot, that kicks the ball. The USA people don’t know how to play it. So, why do call it “soccer”???

  69. Alice
    March 14th, 2009 at 10:02 | #69

    For those like me who don know anything about any footy at all… here is a bit of interesting history on where the words ‘soccer’ and ‘ruggers’ came from


  70. March 17th, 2009 at 00:09 | #70

    I forgot to say one thing: the “american football” doesn’t use a “ball”, because it isn’t round. It looks like a bomb, not a ball.
    Then, if they don’t use a round ball, and they rarely use the foot, it can’t be named football.

  71. TS
    March 17th, 2009 at 05:24 | #71

    James Farrell said “Unlike Kieran, I’ve never heard any Irish or British person complain about us and the Americans using the word soccer.”
    I imagine the Irish bit is because soccer is a common word in Ireland due to the popularity of Gaelic football.

  72. asdas
    May 25th, 2009 at 09:49 | #72

    let’s cut if short peole, do you agree that democracy is th eleast worse political system? do you agree that you prefer to live under it than in soem sort of tyrannic dictatorship of some kind? yes? then get my advice people, if 193 (-1 or 2…) countries in this world call it Football, just play along! call it Football too and bugger the other codes, you still can go and watch A Rugby game of some sort and still not be confused…After all you would not call your beloved classic car, my SMVPTer or “self motorised vehicle for people transportation” very often now would you? You certainly would prefer to call it by its name A Ford, A GM or whatever it is, and you would be right.(as you know soccer was simply an abbreviation back in 1895 for Football Association – Assoc. or socca compared to Football Rules or Rugger then Rugby). So it is Football because since 1863 it has been invented as such and that since the whole real world calls it so. It is Football because its played with the feet only, that is was its name from the beginning and that 99% of the world calls it that… Simple really even yanks can understand.

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