sábado, maio 01, 2010

The name of the game

World cup is around the corner. I'm guessing the posts are going to be a bit more soccer intensive. What? Did I just write soccer? Shouldn't be football, me being Brazilian and all?

Well, here's the thing: I don't mind people calling football soccer. For me it's just a somewhat irritating, yet way too common conversation topic. 'Hur, hur, in american football you play with your hand'. Well, actually that's funny when I'm two drinks above the level. But still, it's particularly annoying when people decide to use this as a symbol of America's cultural isolation with regards to the rest of the world. Because here's the thing: soccer is an appropriate name for football too. Yup.

In the early days of the game, in England, there were several games being played under the name of football. One of them is the beautiful one. But this wasn't the only one: there was also rugby for example. And several other games that derived from it. Some of the British colonies, like US, Canada and Australia developed their own football with their rules. At some point the ambiguity started to become an issue and people needed some consistency. In England, our game became known as Football Association, picking its name from the English governing body, the FA. Rugby became known as Rugby Football and the games on the colonies became known as American Football, Football Australian Rules and so forth. The official name of our beloved is, thus, Football Association. Have you ever wondered why FIFA stands for 'Fédération Internationale de Football Association'? You're welcome.

As a smart reader, you guessed already that 'soccer' as a abbreviation/adaptation of the word 'association'. And for a good time, several leagues had 'football soccer', specially in cities where rugby or another football was the dominant sport. That was true in the US too. For several years, though, people have been using the word football for the American football for a long time. Students were already playing it at American colleges in the mid-19th century, before soccer was even invented. So when people decided 'football soccer' is too big of a word, they decided to drop 'football' instead of dropping 'soccer' like the rest of the world. So it's not really that people here wanted to be different than the rest of the world, it's just that they did what's the most obvious thing to do. If you still think this is the case, then perhaps you should know that Australia also calls the game soccer. And Australians aren't particularly known as arrogant. So there's that.

Now that that's out of the way, I feel free to use the both words interchangeably. I would add 'I'll use both words interchangeably where there's no chance for ambiguity', but it will never be ambiguous. You'll never see me talking about American football here.

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