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EDITIONS
e-cyclopedia Tuesday, 18 June, 2002, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Soccer: A different ball game
soccer n. colloq. (esp. US) A ball game involving two teams of 11 players - only two of whom can regularly handle the ball, while the remainder must use their feet, heads, knees or chests to advance play.

CURRENTLY USED: to describe the game played by the US World Cup squad as they progress to the tournament's quarter finals for the first time since 1930.

PROPERLY KNOWN AS: Association Football, since kicking the ball with the foot part of your leg is where the real trick of "soccer" lies.

NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: American Football, a debased version of rugby popular in the United States (and Canada) involving pads, helmets and hulking players in spandex - but precious little kicking.

ORIGIN: short for association, "socca" has been used as a synonym for football in the UK since the game's earliest days, but is frowned upon by those in the know.

EXAMPLE: "Soccer is NOT a word we use on the site - except in official titles. Stick to football." BBC News Online style guide. Oops!

POPULARISED: by the Americans, keen to find a name (for what has become the country's largest participation sport) that wouldn't confuse those used to thinking of "football" as a game of throwing and catching.

NOTE: Major League Soccer's website still goes to great lengths to explain "the handball infraction", even above the tricky offside rule.

USAGE: "[President Bush] said he wasn't really a soccer fan but had been watching our games," Eddie Lewis, midfielder in the victorious US World Cup soccer squad and for Fulham football club.

SEE: President Bush is a fan of the politics of soccer. So-called "soccer moms" (suburban mothers who work and take their kids to the park) have been considered the key swing voters in the US since the 1996 election, though "office park dads" are being tipped as the new "soccer moms".


Reader Kate Rouse from Cyprus adds:
My husband Paul has written 10 rules of football for an American friend. Number two is: "Any other form of football (American, Australian Rules, Rugby, Table, etc) needs a prefix and should be regarded with deep suspicion."

What would Bobby Moore say? Comments and suggestions can be submitted to the E-cyclopedia by clicking here.



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18 Jun 02 | USA

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