11 Countries That Call Football Soccer

Countries that call football soccer Blurred motion shot of a football player wearing shin guards and cleats winding up to kick a soccer ball on a grass field during important championship football game

Americans repeatedly get ridiculed for their insistence on calling football “soccer.” The reason people all over the world call the sports football is simply because you kick the ball with your foot.

The term “soccer” dates back to the 19th century. It was derived from the full name of the game, “Association Football.”

The inclusion of “association” in the name was because, as at then, there were other varieties of sports referred to by the name football — most notably Rugby football. Thus, it was important to distinguish and differentiate between the two sports.

The word “soccer” originated from the shortening of “association” to “assoccer” (association football). The latter term was further shortened to “soccer” (sometimes spelled “socker”).

Ironically, the word “soccer” originated from England, where it gained popularity before eventually making its way to other English-speaking countries.

Here are some of the notable countries that call football “soccer.”


1. USA

In the United States, the term “soccer” is used to refer to the round-leather game due to an already existing sport that is called football.

They are the most popular country that call football soccer.

The word football in the USA is used to refer to American Football, which is more popular in the country.

The North American Soccer League (NASL) also popularised the term “soccer,” with America’s first official professional league operating from 1968 to 1984, playing a huge role in making the term commonplace across North America.

Now the premier division of the American soccer league system is known as the Major League Soccer (MLS). It is arguably one of the best soccer leagues in the world.

2. Canada

In Canadian French, it is called le soccer. The word football is used to refer to American or Canadian football, the dominant football type in the nation.

Being neighbours with the United States, It is unsurprising that the popularity of American Football spread to Canada.

So being the less popular sport, association football is simply called soccer.

3. Australia

Countries that call football soccer SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Ecuador supporters watch the match during the International Friendly match between the Australia Socceroos and Ecuador at CommBank Stadium on March 24, 2023 in Sydney, Australia.
(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

In Australia (and New Zealand), the term “soccer” is commonly used alongside “football.” This is due to the presence of various types of football in the two countries, notably Australian Football and rugby.

Australian Rules Football” or simply “Australian Football,” is being played by nearly 1.5 million Australians in over 25,000 clubs.

It is the biggest spectator sport in Australia, and it is dominantly referred to as football or “footy”.

Association football is called soccer in Australia, and their national team is even called the Socceroos — a combination of soccer and kangaroo.

Soccer has started to become increasingly popular in Australia, with some of the best Australian soccer players playing in the top European clubs.

3. New Zealand

Rugby is the most popular sport in New Zealand, and for a long time, football was associated with Rugby. Association football is called soccer in the country.

With the increasing popularity and interest in soccer from all over the world, there has been a recent shift in usage from soccer to football.

4. Papua New Guinea

Sharing the same continent with Australia and New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and other parts of Oceania have been influenced to use “soccer” as the preferred term for the sport.

In Papua New Guinea, the national association is the Papua New Guinea Football Association, but the national league is the Papua New Guinea National Soccer League.

In their native language, “soka” refers to “soccer”, “ragbi” refers to rugby, and “futbal” refers to other codes of football (i.e., Australian rules football or “futbal bilong Ostrelia”).

5. South Africa

Unlike many other nations in Africa, South Africa are one of the few countries that call it soccer.

South Africa refers to the game as soccer, derived from sokker in the local Afrikaans language.

Football was introduced to South Africa through colonialism in the late 19th century and was an all-white sport till 1991, when the first non-racial association football body was formed, called the South African Soccer Association.

To date, South Africans call association football “soccer”.

In fact, the South African top soccer league division is known as the Premier Soccer League. It is one of the best soccer leagues in Africa.

6. Lesotho

Being neighbours with South Africa and sharing the same colonial history, association football is mostly called soccer in Lesotho.

7. Japan

In Japan, the sport is called _sakkā_ (サッカー), which is derived from “soccer”. The Japanese also refer to the game as futtobōru (フットボール), meaning football.

However, the national association of soccer is called the “Japan Football Association,” and several Japanese clubs have FC in their club name, such as FC Tokyo for example.

The distinction between soccer and football came after World War II, and most Japanese people refer to the word soccer when it comes to association football.

8. Singapore

In Singapore, the round-leather game is called both football and soccer, but the latter is more commonly used.

9. Puerto Rico

In Puerto Rico, the sport is also called soccer, and in some cases, fútbol.

The country’s national association is called the Puerto Rican Football Federation, while their top league is the Puerto Rico Soccer League, and the 2nd division is named Liga Nacional de Futbol de Puerto Rico.

In the three cases above, you can see the words Football, Soccer, and Futbol.

10. Philippines

In the Philippines, it is referred to as soccer and football, but soccer is more common. This is as a result of the American influence as Phillipine was a former American colony.

Due to the fact that Spain also colonized the country before America, different parts of the Philippines call association football, either football or soccer, depending on Spanish or American colonial influence.

11. Ireland

In Ireland, both football and soccer terms are used. However, football in the country can refer to association football or Gaelic football.

To differentiate between both sports, association football is mostly called soccer, derived from the Irish word “Sacar”.

Soccer is becoming less common but remains strong in areas where Gaelic football is more popular.

Other names of football across the globe:

The sport is not just called either football or soccer. In some countries, the name of the sport may even be something else entirely.

Among its other names is futbol, futebol, voetbal, futball. This is mostly the variation in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries.

In Italy, it is called “Calcio” (calcio is derived from the word calciare, meaning to kick).

In Samoa, it is called soka.

In Arabic-speaking nations, it is called كرة القدم (kuratul qodam), simply meaning football.

In South Korea (Korea Republic), it is called chuggu (蹴球 축구) , meaning “kick-ball.”

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