Soccer VS. American Football: Differences & Similarities

Soccer was popularized by English immigrants as opposed to American football. The Americans do not play football; they play soccer, but there’s more to the difference between soccer and football. This term arrived in the US in the nineteenth century, with the massive immigration of British nationals.

The latter had to differentiate their favorite sport from American football, a distant cousin of rugby, already very popular in the United States. They then used the word “soccer”, a contraction of “assoccer”, which in English slang meant at the time an “association” of football. It is with this nickname that the practice of the balloon developed in North America.

At first very minority, soccer exploded in the United States in the years 1980-1990 (after the organization of the Olympic Games in 1984 and the 1994 World Cup).

Soccer or football, we often think it’s the same thing; players who run after a ball to get it into a goal, guarded by a goalkeeper. There is, however, a clear difference between the two football and soccer group activities. One is the favorite of Americans and the other is the game played and worshiped by (almost) the whole world.

Soccer vs Football: Similarities

Both soccer and football have two teams of 11 players with just one difference. With football, players form a single unit while they share positions for soccer. The grounds are rectangular with almost the same dimensions. For soccer, the field has marks to differentiate the kickoff circle, the midfield line, and the two penalty areas. In football, there are rather hash marks every 10 yards.

A playmaker is needed for every game, named a midfielder for soccer and a quarterback for football. There are some similarities, but soccer is more of a contact sport while football is a collision sport where violence can prevail at any time.

Soccer vs Football: Differences

The soccer game is played for 90 minutes. 45 minutes for each half, separated by a 15-minute break. Football has 40-second breaks between games. It lasts a total of 60 minutes and is divided into four parts of 15 minutes.

Only goalkeepers can touch the ball in a soccer game, the rest of the game is played with the feet, the head, and the torso. In American football, player substitution is unlimited and can be done at each stoppage of play, unlike the game of soccer whose number is limited to 3 per game. Tackles are completely legal in football but are strictly forbidden for soccer play.

There is also a difference in the appearance, soccer players wear jerseys, shorts, shin guards and crampons while football players wear uniforms, helmets, and shoulder pads.

Goals and championships

For a goal to count in a soccer game, the ball must fully arrive at the goal, inside the two poles and below the crossbar. Football requires the ball to enter the end zone. It must pass over the crossbar for a kick to count as an extra point or three points as a field goal.

Some championships are the meeting points for all the teams around the world. FIFA has 208 nations and since 2011, they compete to qualify for the World Cup, which is every 4 years.

The football championship is played through the Super Bowl. The NFC and the AFC organize matches every year and they take place in February. The NFL only includes professional teams, but for fans who want to show their talent, they can participate in the World Cup.

American football vs soccer, in short:

The name:

  • Soccer is the name used by Americans to describe the game called football by the rest of the world.
  • Americans use the name football to describe the game that is more like rugby than other countries.

Use of hands and feet:

  • In soccer, players can only use their feet.
  • In American football, players can use both feet, as well as their hands.

Physical contact:

  • Although both games are physical, there are penalties for unnecessary soccer contacts.
  • In American football, players who purposely hit each other are very common.

Protective gear:

  • In soccer, it is not necessary to use complete protective equipment, the players using only their legs to play.
  • American football uses protective equipment because it involves a lot of hard physical contact.

The number of players:

  • Soccer and football have 11 players for one team.


  • To score a goal in soccer, a team must throw the ball into the goal of the opposing team.
  • To score a goal in US football, a team must hit the ball beyond the opposing touchline or carry it to the touchline by hand.


  • The ball used in soccer or the sport called football in the rest of the world is spherical. • The ball used in American football is ellipsoidal.

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