Is It Football Or Soccer In Canada? (Answer Fully Explained)

Soccer is a unique sport in that it has a different name depending on the country you live in. Even in English-speaking countries, it can differ between soccer and football. With the U.S. being the most well-known country for using the term "soccer," do their neighbors, Canada, also call it soccer?

In Canada, it is referred to as soccer. If Canadians say soccer, they are talking about competitions like the Premier League or the World Cup. If Canadians are talking about football, they are most likely talking about American Football and the NFL.

So now you know that it is referred to as soccer in Canada, but why is this? Find out the answer to this question and more in this article!

Do They Say Football or Soccer in Canada?

In Canada, they say soccer instead of football.

Suppose a Canadian talk about the Champions League, the World Cup, or the English Premier League. In that case, they will refer to it as soccer.

Even in the French-speaking regions of Canada, it is still mostly referred to as soccer, more specifically, "le Soccer."

This may surprise some people, given that French people in France call it "le Football" or "le Foot."

Why Does Canada Call Football Soccer?

The main reason that Canada calls football soccer is mostly thanks to their southern neighbors, the U.S.

In the United States, it is, of course, called soccer. Even the top league in the U.S. is called the MLS. This stands for Major League Soccer.

Given that the best soccer teams from Canada play in the MLS league, it is no surprise that Canadians also use the term soccer.

CF Montréal, Toronto FC, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC are all Canadian soccer teams that play a big part in Major League Soccer.

Interestingly, the "FC" in Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC actually stands for "Football Club," despite Canadians referring to them both as soccer clubs.

Similarly, the "CF" in CF Montréal stands for "Club de Foot."

Canada can not entirely point the finger at America for the reason they say soccer, though. 

Canada actually has their own soccer league, in which the smaller Canadian clubs compete. This league also uses the term soccer and is called the Canadian Soccer League (CSL).

So then, where did the term soccer even come from in the first place?

The word "soccer" originally came from an old term called "Association Football." This is what soccer was originally called in the United Kingdom in the 1800s.

The British used the term "Associated Football" to differentiate the sport from Rugby, which was originally called "Rugby Football."

In Britain today, soccer is simply called football, while Rugby Football is now just called rugby.

The U.S. then adopted the term "soccer" to differentiate British football (or Associated Football) from American football. Canada would then follow in America's footsteps.

Like the U.S., Canada also has their own version of football which people outside of Canada would just call Canadian Football.

Canadian Football is very similar to American Football. Their top league is the Canadian Football League (CFL) which is not unlike the NFL.

The existence of the CFL is likely to be another big reason why Canadians continue to use the term soccer to help differentiate it from British and European Football.

So What is Referred to as Soccer in Canada?

Canadians call soccer in Canada what British and European people call football. So when any European football leagues are discussed in Canada, they will refer to it as soccer.

The English Premier League, Spain's La Liga, Germany's Bundesliga, and even the UEFA Champions League.

All these competitions would be labeled as soccer in Canada, despite them all being called football in their homelands.

The same is true for the World Cup. Even though the majority of the world would call the World Cup a football tournament, the U.S. and Canada would still call it a soccer tournament.

So What is Referred to as Football in Canada?

When people in Canada talk about football, they are most likely referring to the NFL in America or their own football league called the CFL (a very similar sport to American Football).

Suppose a European person was to go to Canada and begin talking about Cristiano Ronaldo as a football player.

In that case, they'd probably receive a few funny looks from the locals!

Some people in the French regions of Canada may sometimes use "le Foot" or "et le Football" to talk about soccer, much like people do in France. This is quite rare, though.

Soccer is still the most widely accepted term used across all of Canada, including the French regions. "le Soccer" would be the most common term in these areas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it football or soccer in England?

In England, it is most definitely called football. Most English football fans will not even entertain the idea of calling it soccer.

Originally the English called it Associated Football to avoid confusion with Rugby Football. These days though, it's simply just football and rugby.

Unlike Canada, there isn't another type of football for England to worry about, like the NFL.

This is also the case for most European and South American countries.

(Click here to learn more about whether they say soccer or football in England)

Is it football or soccer in Australia?

In Australia, they call it soccer instead of football.

Just like in Canada, the Australians have their own version of football, meaning they go with the term "soccer."

What's a bit more confusing is that football in Australia could either mean Australian Rules Football or Rugby, depending on what part of the country you are in.

Soccer, however, is simply just soccer.

(Click here to learn more about whether they say soccer or football in Australia)

Is it football or soccer in New Zealand?

New Zealand is actually a bit mixed, but football is becoming more common to say than soccer these days.

In 2007, the New Zealand Football Organization replaced the word soccer with football in their official title. This was to try to line up with the rest of the world.

For years, Kiwis would follow Australians in calling it soccer to avoid confusion with Australian Rules Football

However, the Premier League became so popular in New Zealand that the term football began to be used more and more when discussing soccer, especially among younger people.

(Click here to learn more about whether they say soccer or football in New Zealand)

Is it football or soccer in Ireland?

Both football and soccer are used in Ireland, but football is the more commonly used term.

The term football can get very confusing in Ireland. Not only is it used for soccer, but also for Gaelic Football and, sometimes, Rugby

Although fans of Gaelic Football will often use the term soccer to differentiate the two, soccer fans in Ireland continue to call it football most of the time.

(Click here to learn more about whether they say soccer or football in Ireland)


Most Canadians call competitions like the Premier League and Champions League - soccer.

If Canadians are talking about football, they are probably referring to the NFL in the U.S., or their own Canadian Football, the CFL.

This is most likely due to Canada and the U.S. sharing the same soccer league (MLS) and wanting to differentiate soccer from the NFL and the CFL.

November 5, 2022
Published: November 5, 2022