Is It Football Or Soccer In New Zealand? (Fully Explained)

Soccer or football? Depending on where you live, the sport is referred to by a different term. It even differs between English-speaking countries, with the U.S. calling it soccer and the U.K. calling it football. But what about another English-speaking country, New Zealand? Does New Zealand say soccer or football?

Since 2007, the New Zealand Football Organization has scrapped the word soccer and now uses the term football instead. In New Zealand, it is now commonly referred to as football. However, this is quite a recent change, so the older generation in New Zealand sometimes still says soccer.

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

Does New Zealand Say Soccer Or Football?

In New Zealand, it is now more common to say football instead of soccer. This was not always the case, though.

Before 2006, most of New Zealand would use the term soccer when talking about competitions such as the Premier League or the Champions League.

This was to avoid any confusion with the country's most popular sport - Rugby Union, sometimes called Rugby Football in New Zealand.

In addition, they did it to differentiate soccer from Australian Rules Football.

However, in 2006, the word football was dropped by the Rugby Union's governing body and is now just called New Zealand Rugby.

Now that Rugby Union didn't use the term football anymore, and with soccer being a lot more popular than Australian Rules Football in New Zealand, soccer quickly started being referred to as football. Especially among the younger generation.

This was reflected at the highest level of soccer in New Zealand.

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.

This has led to the majority of media outlets in New Zealand saying football rather than soccer.

Despite this significant change, some older people in New Zealand will still call it soccer, just like they have for their whole life. 

Why do They Say Football Instead of Soccer in New Zealand?

New Zealand says football instead of soccer to try to line up with the majority of the world. 

In the countries where soccer is the most popular sport, it is almost always called football.

Although soccer is not the most popular sport in the country (that honor belongs to Rugby Union and cricket), New Zealand has still made an effort to follow the rest of the world when calling it football instead of soccer.

Countries such as the U.S. and Australia have adopted the term soccer to not confuse the sport with their own versions of football (The NFL and Aussie Rules).

New Zealand does not have its own version of football, so this is not an issue for them.

With the likes of the Premier League becoming more and more popular in New Zealand, calling it football makes a lot of sense.

What is Referred to as Football in New Zealand?

Kiwis call football in New Zealand what American and Australian people call soccer. When any popular soccer league is discussed in New Zealand, they will usually refer to it as football.

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

New Zealand also has its own soccer league.

Recently rebranded as the National League in 2021, this league also refers to itself as football instead of soccer.

You might get some older people still referring to Rugby Union as football on rare occasions. However, this is not a widely accepted term across most of the country.

What is Referred to as Soccer in New Zealand?

Soccer is rarely used in New Zealand now. If somebody did say soccer, though, they probably still refer to what most Kiwis now call football.

Suppose you choose to say soccer in New Zealand. In that case, most people will probably not bother to correct you and will completely understand what you mean.

This would not be the case in England, for example.

Once again, some older generations still prefer to use the term soccer.

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.

Like New Zealand, there isn't another type of football for England to worry about, like the NFL in America.

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.

Unlike New Zealand, 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 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)

Is it football or soccer in Canada?

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.

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


In New Zealand, competitions like the Premier League and the Champions League are mostly referred to as football.

With this being a pretty recent change, it is not too uncommon to still hear some people call it soccer in New Zealand.

The main reason they now say football is to try to line up with the majority of the world. Since making this change, most fans and media outlets now say football instead of soccer.

November 5, 2022
Published: November 5, 2022