Difference between Football and Soccer

Difference between Football and Soccer is explained here in detail.

Football is a general term used for many sports. American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron,is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. 

Soccer or Association football, more commonly known as football across the globe apart from US and Canada, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of 11 players. It is played by approximately 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world’s most popular sport.

Candidates can refer to the below article while preparing for the current affairs section of IAS Exam.

Difference between Football and Soccer

Football vs Soccer – Comparative Analysis

Given below is a tabulated difference between Football and Soccer. Candidates can refer to the table below and analyse the points of difference between the two:

Football (American Football) Soccer
Football is a general term used to refer to many sports which uses the foot and hands to score goals. Association Football, American Football, Australian Football, Rugby, Gaelic Football, Gridiron Football. In most parts of the world, football means soccer and in America, football means American Football. Soccer is the term used in America, Canada, Australia to refer to the most popular global sport i.e. Football, which is also known as Association Football. 
The 1st American Football match was played between 2 college teams on November 6, 1869, between Rutgers and Princeton. The first Association Football/Soccer International match, recognised by FIFA was held between Scotland and England. It was held on 30 November, 1872.
American Football is played predominantly in America, Canada. Soccer or Association Football is the most popular sport played in most of the Countries.
In American Football, the football is shaped like a prolate spheroid. The football has a circumference of 56 cm at the centre and the length of the football is 28 cm. The weight of the football is 0.875 pounds. Soccer balls are Spherical in shape. The soccer ball circumference is between 68 cm and 70 cm. The pressure in the soccer ball is 8.5 and 15.6 pounds per square inch. The weight of the soccer ball is in the range of 410 g to 450 g.
In American Football the field is about 110 m long and about 50 m wide. The length of the Soccer pitch is in the range of 100 to 110 m, and the width is in the range of 64 m to 75 m.
In American football the match is divided into 4 quarters of 15 minutes each. There will be half time intermission after the 2nd quarter. The game can be stopped frequently. In Soccer the match is 90 minutes long and is divided into 1st half and 2nd half of 45 minutes each. After the 1st half of 45 minutes there will be a break in the match. Depending on the type of tournament and the stages of the tournament, if the matches are in stalemate at the end of 90 minutes, then there will be extra time and still if it is a stalemate then the match will be decided by Penalties.
In American Football, the objective is score points. Points can be earned by kicking the football between the goal post called a field goal. Points can also be scored  by carrying the ball beyond the opponents touch line. The ball is carried using hands. At each instance the ball is carried beyond the touch line, it is called touchdown.  In Soccer, the objective is to score a goal. 1 goal is awarded when the ball crosses the goal line, it can be scored either through field goals, corner kicks, free kicks, or penalties. Hands are not used for scoring goals or passing the ball. Only foot, head or chest can be used to pass or score goals. There is a goalkeeper whose objective is to prevent the opposing team from scoring a goal, by preventing the ball from crossing the goal line. 
In American Football, lines marked along the ends and sides of the field are known as the end lines and sidelines. Goal lines are marked 10 yards (9.1 m) inward from each end line. Yard lines, which can run the width of the field, are marked every 5 yards (4.6 m). A one-yard-wide line is placed at each end of the field.  Numerals that display the distance from the closest goal line in yards are placed on both sides of the field every ten yards. Goalposts are located at the center of the plane of the two end lines. The crossbar of these posts is 10 feet (3.0 m) above the ground, with vertical uprights at the end of the crossbar 18 feet 6 inches (5.64 m) apart  The longer boundary lines are touchlines, while the shorter boundaries (on which the goals are placed) are goal lines. A rectangular goal is positioned at the middle of each goal line. The inner edges of the vertical goal posts must be 7.32 m (24 ft) apart, and the lower edge of the horizontal crossbar supported by the goal posts must be 2.44 m (8 ft) above the ground. Nets are usually placed behind the goal.
In American Football there are 3 to 6 referees plus booth review. In Soccer 1 Referee is assisted by 2 Referees. There is also a video assistant referee.
In American Football, one can make as many substitutions as required. The number of substitutions are unlimited. FIFA allows only 3 substitutions in Soccer.
In American Football, the guards used by the players are mouthguard, upper leg padding, helmet, shoulder protector, chest pad. In Soccer the protective gears used by the players are boots and shin guards. The goalkeepers are allowed to wear hand gloves.
The most popular league in American Football is the National Football League (NFL). It is one of the four major professional sports leagues in America, it is the wealthiest professional sport league by revenue. In Soccer/Association Football, the most popular leagues are Champions League (European Continental League, played amongst the top ranked teams of leagues in different countries),English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Bundesliga (played in Germany), Serie A (in Italy) 
International Federation of American Football (IFAF) is the Governing body of the American Football. It was established in 1998 and is headquartered in France. FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) is the international governing body of Association Football/Soccer. FIFA was founded in 1904, has 211 National Associations as its members. FIFA is headquartered in Zurich. 

The Similarities between Football (American Football) and Soccer are:

  • Both American Football and Soccer have 2 opposing teams with 11 members each
  • Both are contact sports
  • Both games allow substitutions, although the numbers are different.
  • Both the sports have goal posts, although they are of different dimensions.
  • Both the sports have rectangular shaped fields, but the length and width varies.

After learning about differences and similarities between Football and Soccer visit the below-given links for more details related to different sports.

Difference between Football and Soccer – UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

Candidates can find the general pattern of the IAS Exam by visiting the UPSC Syllabus page.

Frequently Asked Questions on Difference Between Football and Soccer


What is the basic difference between Football and Soccer?

Football is a general term used to refer to many sports which use the foot and hands to score goals. Whereas, Soccer is the term used in America, Canada, Australia to refer to the most popular global sport i.e. Football, which is also known as Association Football.

Why is football called soccer?

Two separate sports, Rugby Football or rugger, and Association Football or assoccer were combined to coin a new term “Soccer”. This is the reason why football is called soccer.

When was the first Americal football match played?

The 1st American Football match was played between 2 college teams on November 6, 1869, between Rutgers and Princeton.

When was the first international soccer match played?

The first international soccer match was played between Scotland and England on November 30, 1872.

Are there any similarities between soccer and football?

Yes, there are multiple similarities between soccer and football. The number of players in each team is the same for both sports, the playground is rectangular in shape and both require the players to score goals.

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