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Thread: Soccerball [the game]

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    Soccerball [the game]

    Term: (A word or expression you have seen in writing)
    soccerball

    Your definition or explanation:
    A term I have started to notice recently which is used in Britain to refer to the game of football (soccer) in the context of the game as played or understood in the USA. It's an allusion to the fact that the game is called football in the UK (and in most of the world) but soccer in the US and is jocular or mocking.

    Example: (An example of the term in use)
    Gotta love that crazy soccerball game, dudes [mocking, imitation]
    Great to be here in the country where they made soccerball [mocking, imitation] Daily Mail
    Say what you like about Hollywood Scientologists .. but they do love their soccerball. Guardian
    Americans: Meet The Soccerball World Cup Football365

    One or more places you have seen the term: (Please give URLs/links to web pages, or a full description of a print publication.)
    Links with examples.


    Have you looked for this term or meaning in dictionaries, and not found it? Yes
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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    Just as I was about to ask about 'soccerball' on the forums... Great minds...

    I'm not sure if you're allowed to pose questions in this subforum, but...

    Is the implication that Americans are too, I don't know, dense to appreciate football? That referring to the game as soccer (as we do also in New Zealand, by the way) is inherently ridiculous?
    Has this just popped up this year?

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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwan View Post
    Just as I was about to ask about 'soccerball' on the forums... Great minds...

    I'm not sure if you're allowed to pose questions in this subforum, but...

    [....]
    Discussion that refines the definitions or elaborates on them is fine.

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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwan View Post
    Just as I was about to ask about 'soccerball' on the forums... Great minds...

    I'm not sure if you're allowed to pose questions in this subforum, but...

    Is the implication that Americans are too, I don't know, dense to appreciate football? That referring to the game as soccer (as we do also in New Zealand, by the way) is inherently ridiculous?
    Has this just popped up this year?
    I have not consciously heard it before the current World Cup season in fact, but is seems to be catching on fast. I also read it in a print newspaper this week.

    I think with my use of "mocking" that I am saying that there is more than a hint of, well, mockery, in this term, and I'm afraid it is inescapably the US attitude that is being mocked. There is a strong feeling that US Americans don't understand football, don't take it seriously, are dismissive of it, etc. (the term "soccer mom" is indicative of this) and therefore when they do take it seriously (by taking part in the World Cup, for example, or by buying-in coaches, managers and players from the UK) we, perhaps naturally, given how seriously it is taken in the UK, take to mocking them out of a certain resentment.

    I think it might be said to be patronizing or (mildly) contemptuous, but in a very playful way. It's a very British word, in other words.

    Essentially, soccerball is simply funny to the the British ear, and it wouldn't surprise me to start hearing it used to refer to football without any reference to the US. In this case it might be football itself which is being mocked.

    As for football being called soccer in NZ, football was called soccer in the UK too, without any sense of wrongness. I remember this when I was a child, in the 60s. The word originated in the UK in the 19th c. I imagine the same was true in NZ and Australia (who eventually, by the way, both changed the official, in FIFA terms, name to football) but the difference being that the change in acceptability of the term never came. At what point the term came to be sneered at in Britain, and why, I do not know.
    I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out. — Oscar Wilde

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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    Quote Originally Posted by Matching Mole View Post
    Essentially, soccerball is simply funny to the the British ear, and it wouldn't surprise me to start hearing it used to refer to football without any reference to the US.
    For the record, "soccerball" sounds funny to the American ear, too (at least as a single word). We do call the ball itself a "soccer ball" but it sounds strange as one word, "soccerball," what the name of the sport would be as written in your citations.

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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    Quote Originally Posted by jdotjdot89 View Post
    For the record, "soccerball" sounds funny to the American ear, too (at least as a single word). We do call the ball itself a "soccer ball" but it sounds strange as one word, "soccerball," what the name of the sport would be as written in your citations.
    I would agree. I've never heard of playing "Soccerball" in the US unless it is children playing around with a soccer ball. The game is just soccer. Even football (as a synonym for soccer) would not be recognized by many Americans, unless of course you qualify it by saying "European football", "European-style football" which I have already heard (and perhaps seen written).
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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    Quote Originally Posted by merquiades View Post
    I would agree. I've never heard of playing "Soccerball" in the US unless it is children playing around with a soccer ball. The game is just soccer. Even football (as a synonym for soccer) would not be recognized by many Americans, unless of course you qualify it by saying "European football", "European-style football" which I have already heard (and perhaps seen written).
    I've actually heard rugby referred to as European football, with reference to American football as the "football" in question.

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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    Quote Originally Posted by jdotjdot89 View Post
    For the record, "soccerball" sounds funny to the American ear, too (at least as a single word). We do call the ball itself a "soccer ball" but it sounds strange as one word, "soccerball," what the name of the sport would be as written in your citations.
    I'd wager that "Soccerball" would sound strange to anyone, regardless of whether they are from UK, USA, Canada, AUS, or New Zealand. It's probably deliberately written that way to make it clear that it is used by way of 'mockery'.

    If it had simply been written as 'soccer', it wouldn't be as abundantly clear that it was intended to mock. Afterall, it has long been accepted that the game is referred to as Soccer in the States and as Football in the UK (among other countries).

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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    Quote Originally Posted by jdotjdot89 View Post
    I've actually heard rugby referred to as European football, with reference to American football as the "football" in question.
    Interesting. I'll have to pay more attention. Honestly, I'm not a fan so my conversations about soccer are superficial and I don't read "seriously" articles about it. I just assumed "European football" meant soccer. Now I'm intrigued...

    Actually, when I talk to Americans about soccer, it's always connected to Europe (when it's not coming from one of those soccer moms). It's still not a popular sport in much of America, I would say.
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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    I think it's growing in popularity precisely because of people like soccer moms. The fact that soccer moms would have been Little League (baseball) moms a generation ago indicates a real shift to me. Our local AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) program has over a thousand children in it, year after year.

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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    Quote Originally Posted by jdotjdot89 View Post
    I've actually heard rugby referred to as European football,
    This term doesn't make much sense to me since rugby is virtually unknown in Europe outside the British Isles and a few isolated places on the Continent (parts of France, for instance). In fact, American football, another minority pastime, probably has a wider following in most of Europe than rugby -- there are definitely more games televised on cable and there is even a European Football League with teams from across Europe (although NFL Europe is no longer around).

    Referring to soccer as "European football" makes more sense. Having said that, the aversion to the word "soccer" puzzles me. It's an old term -- invented in the UK -- and it can prevent confusion with American football (or Australian rules football, for that matter) when such confusion is likely.

    I can only assume that "soccerball" is entirely facetious.

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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    Quote Originally Posted by TriglavNationalPark View Post
    This term doesn't make much sense to me since rugby is virtually unknown in Europe outside the British Isles and a few isolated places on the Continent (parts of France, for instance). In fact, American football, another minority pastime, probably has a wider following in most of Europe than rugby -- there are definitely more games televised on cable and there is even a European Football League with teams from across Europe (although NFL Europe is no longer around).
    It may make more sense if I clarified that I heard rugby referred to as European football in the context of a conversation between Americans explaining what rugby is. If for one's whole life, "football" has always meant only American football, then rugby could easily be considered the European version of American football, creation dates and locations notwithstanding.

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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    My dad sometimes uses the term "soccerball". He's not a fan, and has only a vague idea of the rules, but has played pickup games once in a while. He's from Michigan if that makes any difference.

    My husband is Mexican and makes a big point of calling soccer "football" because (according to him) that's what the British (the people who invented the game) named it.
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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    Quote Originally Posted by Matching Mole View Post
    I have not consciously heard it before the current World Cup season in fact, but is seems to be catching on fast. I also read it in a print newspaper this week.

    As for football being called soccer in NZ, football was called soccer in the UK too, without any sense of wrongness. I remember this when I was a child, in the 60s. The word originated in the UK in the 19th c. I imagine the same was true in NZ and Australia (who eventually, by the way, both changed the official, in FIFA terms, name to football) but the difference being that the change in acceptability of the term never came. At what point the term came to be sneered at in Britain, and why, I do not know.
    I don't live in the UK anymore, but actually do work professionally in sports, including football, and have never heard the expression until reading this thread. But Matching Mole's explanation rings very, very true to my ears.

    The official name of the game codified in the UK in the 19th century is actually ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL, which was quickly shortened affectionately to SOCCER. Non-associated football had been around for centuries (and even outlawed in England in the 14th century). The Americans obviously adopted the name Soccer because they already had a football of their own.

    I think that the choice in Australia /New Zealand to use soccer rather than football is an indication that these two nations are looking more to America these days for inspiration than to the country of their roots.

    Curiously enough, rugby-people often refer to their sport as rugby-football, and even football, although soccer-people would never call rugby football. Possibly just a remnant of the fact that rugby evolved out of association football.
    Last edited by Spira; 25th September 2010 at 4:09 PM.

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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    How did "Association Football" get shortened to "Soccer"? It seems like it would have been shortened to "sosher", if anything.

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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesM View Post
    How did "Association Football" get shortened to "Soccer"? It seems like it would have been shortened to "sosher", if anything.
    asSOCiation football. The SOC gave soccer. Bit weird, but there you are !!!

    At the same period rugby was affectionately called RUGGER, which the Americans adopted as the word to describe those who play rugby. As in "John is a rugger, he plays for a club". I don't know if this is still said in the US, but it certainly was when I was a student in Pennsylvania.

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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    My first post -- though no sports fan, I (like Matching Mole) recall from my 1950s / 60s UK childhood, "soccer" being there-and-then pretty much the standard term for Association football -- to distinguish it from Rugby football.

    I find it irritating that the word "soccer" has since become "infra dig." in Britain, and that we have to call the game just "football". In countries where more than one variety of football obtains, it's handy to be able to use alternative / additional names / terms, for more ease in knowing what's being talked about. However, fads / fashions / trendinesses, in language as in other areas, come about as they will; making sense, is not noticeably involved.

    (Have just noticed belatedly, how long ago the previous post on this thread, was ! Oh, well, never mind.)
    Last edited by cabbageweevil; 27th April 2011 at 1:26 PM. Reason: Additional point to put

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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    Quote Originally Posted by Spira View Post

    I think that the choice in Australia /New Zealand to use soccer rather than football is an indication that these two nations are looking more to America these days for inspiration than to the country of their roots.
    I don't think so. While undoubtedly the Americanisation of our language and cultures continues apace, I think it's more likely that we use soccer because rugby is a much more popular sport, and that's often referred to as 'footy'.

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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    Quote Originally Posted by Spira View Post
    Curiously enough, rugby-people often refer to their sport as rugby-football, and even football, although soccer-people would never call rugby football. Possibly just a remnant of the fact that rugby evolved out of association football.
    That isn't true. Rugby was already evolving by the 1820s, decades before association football existed. There's nothing at all strange about referring to rugby as 'rugby football', or even as 'football'. In the early-to-mid 19th century, various public schools in England had their own forms of football, which all involved some mixture of handling and kicking. These games were descended from folk football, which had been going on for centuries (and was mainly a handling game in most places). The type of football being played at Rugby School evolved into modern rugby, whereas Harrow School football was one of the main influences on soccer.

    In fact, at the time when rugby reached North America (Canada in the 1860s, then the US in the 1870s), people in Britain mostly called it 'football', 'rugby football' or 'rugger'. Canadians and Americans also called it 'football', and when they later developed it into the gridiron game, the name stuck.

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    Re: Soccerball [the game]

    Quote Originally Posted by mylam View Post
    My husband is Mexican and makes a big point of calling soccer "football" because (according to him) that's what the British (the people who invented the game) named it.
    I would say that 'soccer' and 'football' are not interchangeable too.

    I always thought that, stereotypically, only the Americans called football 'soccer' (and apparently Australia and NZ too), whereas the people who care about football/the rest of the world call football 'football'.

    I remember a fragment of a British film where a football supporter (read: hooligan) tells his American cousin "Stop calling it soccer, it's football". Sadly I don't remember the name of the film.
    And from the other side of the ocean, I remember an episode of the Annoying Orange in which an American football ball tells and soccer ball (with an British accent) he's not a football: "Not in this country, you're not!"

    So does it matter what you call it in the presence of Americans/Britons or not?

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