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Football vs. Soccer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 15, 2024
"Football" generally refers to a sport involving a spherical ball played by two teams, known as soccer in the U.S., while "soccer" specifically denotes this game in countries where "football" may refer to other sports like American football.

Key Differences

In most of the world, "football" refers to the sport where players kick a ball into a goal to score, known as "soccer" in the U.S. The term "soccer" is a British abbreviation that has fallen out of use in the UK but remains common in the U.S. and a few other countries.
"Football" can refer to different sports depending on the region, including American football, Australian rules football, or rugby, "soccer" unambiguously refers to the game governed by FIFA rules.
Football, as known in most countries, is a major part of international sports culture, with the FIFA World Cup being a highly anticipated event. Soccer, in American context, is growing in popularity but traditionally has been less prominent than American football.
The game referred to as "football" outside the U.S. and "soccer" within the U.S. involves two teams of eleven players, aiming to score goals by getting a spherical ball into the opposing team's net without using their hands or arms.
The international governing body for soccer/football is FIFA, which oversees the sport globally. In contrast, American football, also called "football" in the U.S., is governed by different organizations like the NFL and NCAA.

Comparison Chart


Refers to several sports depending on the region
Specifically refers to the sport governed by FIFA

Global Popularity

Varies; most popular in Europe, Africa, and S. America
Growing in the U.S., less prominent elsewhere

Typical Association

Often associated with the FIFA World Cup
Associated with both international and U.S. leagues


Involves teams playing to score goals in a net
Same, but specifically denotes the FIFA-regulated game

Cultural Context

Central to global sports culture
Gaining cultural significance in the U.S.

Football and Soccer Definitions


A team sport played with a spherical ball, aiming to score goals.
He played football every weekend at the local park.


A game played on a field with a ball, goals, and two teams of eleven.
She joined the school's soccer team this semester.


In the U.S., a sport involving tactical advancement of an oval ball across a field.
Football season in America culminates with the Super Bowl.


A sport where two teams compete to score goals using a spherical ball.
Kids were playing soccer in the park.


A game played by two teams of eleven players each.
The school's football team won the championship this year.


The term used in the U.S. for the globally popular sport of football.
Soccer leagues in the U.S. have been gaining more fans.


A popular global sport, especially during the FIFA World Cup.
Football fans around the world eagerly await the World Cup.


A sport emphasizing foot skills, strategy, and teamwork.
He improved his footwork by practicing soccer daily.


The most popular sport in many countries, known as soccer in the U.S.
In Europe, football is a major part of the sports culture.


The American term for the international sport governed by FIFA.
Soccer is becoming more prominent in American sports culture.


A game played by two teams of 11 players each on a rectangular, 100-yard-long field with goal lines and goalposts at either end, the object being to gain possession of a ball and advance it in running or passing plays across the opponent's goal line or kick it through the air between the opponent's goalposts.


A game played on a rectangular field with net goals at either end in which two teams of 11 players each try to drive a ball into the other's goal by kicking, heading, or using any part of the body except the arms and hands. The goalie is the only player who may touch or move the ball with the arms or hands.


The inflated oval ball, slightly pointed at both ends, that is used in this game.


Indoor soccer.


Association football.


(Australian rules football) To kick the football directly off the ground, without using one's hands.


A football game in which two teams of 11 players try to kick or head a ball into the opponents' goal


How is soccer different from football?

"Soccer" is the American term for the international sport known as "football" in other countries.

Is American football the same as football in other countries?

No, American football is a different sport with different rules.

Can the term football refer to different sports?

Yes, in the U.S., it refers to American football, and elsewhere to the sport known as soccer in the U.S.

How many players are on a football team?

Typically, there are eleven players per team.

Where is football most popular?

It's most popular in Europe, South America, and Africa.

What equipment is needed for soccer?

A spherical ball, goals, and proper sportswear including cleats.

How long is a football match?

A standard match is 90 minutes, divided into two halves.

What is football?

A sport where two teams play to score goals with a spherical ball.

Is soccer growing in popularity in the U.S.?

Yes, soccer's popularity in the U.S. is on the rise.

Is soccer a team sport?

Yes, it's played by two teams of eleven players each.

What is the FIFA World Cup?

A global tournament for the sport known as football or soccer.

Can football refer to rugby in some countries?

Yes, in countries like Australia, "football" can refer to rugby.

What is a penalty kick in soccer?

A free kick awarded for certain fouls within the penalty area.

What are the basic rules of soccer?

Two teams compete to score goals without using their hands or arms.

Are there women's soccer leagues?

Yes, there are professional women's soccer leagues worldwide.

What's the origin of the word 'soccer'?

It comes from an abbreviation of "Association Football" in Britain.

What is a hat-trick in soccer?

Scoring three goals in a single game by the same player.

How do you score in football?

By getting the ball into the opposing team's goal.

Are headers allowed in soccer?

Yes, players can use their head to play the ball.

What is offside in football?

A rule that restricts players' position on the field to prevent unfair advantages.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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