Is It Soccer Or Football In England? (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. So, is it soccer or football in England?

In England, it is most definitely referred to as football. If somebody from England talks about competitions like the Premier League or the Champions League, they will always say football. Soccer is not a term that is used by fans or the media in England.

So now you know that the English say football, but why is this? And have they ever said soccer? Find out the answers to these questions and more in this article!

Do The British Call it Soccer or Football?

The British always say football rather than soccer. This applies to all of Britain, including England, Scotland, Wales, and most of Northern Ireland.

When discussing competitions such as the Premier League, the Champions League, and even the MLS, the British will always say football.

If you were to enter a traditional British pub and begin referring to the Premier League as soccer, you would undoubtedly receive some funny looks from the locals and quickly be corrected.

There aren't any soccer fans or media outlets in England who refer to the sport as soccer.

The main reason for this is that England does not have its own version of football, like the NFL, for example. So there is no need to differentiate it from anything else.

In fact, the sport was invented in England, which makes soccer their own version of football anyway.

Why Does England Call Soccer Football?

England calls soccer football as a matter of pride. Soccer was invented in England during the 1800s and was originally called football, then Associated Football. The English have kept the football part of the name ever since.

Another reason the English say football is that soccer is the most popular sport in England by a long distance.

In fact, a poll in 2003 revealed that 45% of the country was interested in the sport.

This was nearly double the popularity of other popular sports in England, such as Rugby, Cricket, and Tennis.

With that in mind, there's no reason for the English to change the name from what it was originally called, as there are no worries about confusing it with another sport.

In England, football will always mean soccer.

Did The English Ever Call Football Soccer?

Despite the English refusing to use the term soccer these days, they actually invented the name. They also used the term for a considerable period of time.

In the early 1800s, both soccer and rugby shared the name football. They were both seen as variations of the same game, despite them being quite different.

This was, of course, very confusing.

So in 1863, the Football Association (FA) was born, and they officially declared the sport as Associated Football with its own set of rules.

Rugby would also become Rugby Football not long after.

With them now being associated as football and rugby football, it wasn't long before people began to shorten the names. These quickly became shortened to "soccer" and "rugger." 

Throughout the 1800s and into the 1900s, football was still the most popular name for soccer.

However, soccer was still used as a nickname or a slang term for the sport.

Some reports even state that it became even more commonplace after World War II. This was believed to be because of how many Americans would have been in England at the time.

When Did England Stop Calling it Soccer?

It wasn't until the 1980s that England began to abandon the word soccer. This was due to English backlash against American sports culture and America's refusal to call it anything other than soccer.

As the popularity of soccer rose in the U.S. during the 1980s, the term soccer was heard a lot more in the U.K. However, the word quickly became seen as an American term by the British.

Although it was as recent as the early 1980s when soccer was still being used in England, you wouldn't believe it was ever said at all, given how English soccer fans began to react to the term.

Even though the English would use soccer as a nickname, football was still the proper name for the fans.

So when America adopted the term football for the NFL and began using soccer exclusively for associated football, the English abandoned the term soccer entirely to double down on the term football.

The rise of the internet has also been a reason why England has distanced itself from the word soccer.

With English and American people being able to connect with each other over the internet easily, the English have rebelled even more against the term soccer. 

It's not uncommon to see an American on social media talking about soccer, only for an Englishman to correct them and call it football.

You could say Britain's overall refusal of American sports culture led to the British choosing never to say soccer again.

Is The Term Soccer Still Used in England?

Even though the English do not like the term soccer, it is still used today in some TV shows. Both Soccer Saturday and Soccer AM are two hugely popular shows in England.

Although neither fans nor the media will call the sport soccer, some TV shows still use the name in their program titles. 

This may confuse people from other countries as the TV presenter may well say something like, "Welcome to Soccer Saturday, we have some great football lined up for today."

There's never been an explanation why they do this, other than "Soccer Saturday" probably sounds better than "Football Saturday." 

What's even weirder, the English never seem to complain about the titles of these TV shows!

Where Does The Term Soccer Come From?

The term "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."

Children and college students quickly shortened associated football to "soccer." 

Although football was the correct term going forward, soccer was born in England as a slang term before being adopted by places like America and Australia as a proper name.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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 Australia?

In Australia, they call it soccer instead of football.

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, New Zealand would follow Australia in calling it soccer to avoid confusion with Australian Rules Football.

However, soccer and 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 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)


To summarize, there's no doubt that the English say football instead of soccer.

It's ironic, though, that the English were the ones who actually invented the term soccer, which America and other countries then adopted.

The adoption of the word by countries like America has led to the English abolishing the term altogether.

November 6, 2022
Published: November 6, 2022