Young Gaurav Sabnis made an impassioned case which builds on his constant campaign to have us natives call the beautiful game “soccer” and not “football”. Well, under normal circumstances, one should, like his European and South American friends, simply shrug and and put him down under the category “let the ignorant be”. And so it will be. We will ignore Gaurav Sabnis and instead pick his arguments (supposedly made with due care and research).
Let’s start with where everyone, from the school kid to the nuclear science researcher, starts – wikipedia.
Football refers to a number of sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball with the foot to score a goal. The most popular of these sports worldwide is association football, more commonly known as just “football” or “soccer”. Unqualified, the word football applies to whichever form of football is the most popular in the regional context in which the word appears, including association football, as well as American football, Australian rules football, Canadian football, Gaelic football, rugby league, rugby union and other related games. These variations of football are known as football “codes”.
So, as any good market man would say, if the largest market play “association football, more commonly known as just “football” or “soccer’“, then it is perfectly logical for everyone whose first name is not Gaurav and second name is not Sabnis to mentally associate “football” to the game where a ball is kicked by a foot and carried by hand only by two players (Maradona and Henry excepted). And since 2.5 out of 7 human beings live in India and China, it is but natural for Indians and Chinese to call it football and not soccer.
One pillar of Gaurav’s argument is that Europeans call this soccer.
The name soccer is out there, put out there by Europeans, and is understood worldwide as referring to the game that involves pretending to be hurt while taking leisurely strolls, once in a while prodding the ball into a disgruntled-looking net.
So let me take some of the leading European newspapers and see what they call it: Le Figaro calls it football; Die Welt calls it fussball (football in German); For El Pais it is futbol; and finally La Gazzetta dello Sport pwns soccer by calling it Calcio (Italian for kicking). So no public occurrence of “soccer” in these four largest newspapers of the respective countries. So where do you see “soccer” used by a newspaper? The New York Times, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, etc. So if Europeans invented “soccer” why are the Americans the only people to use it?
Then there is nice bit:
As they say, the newest converts are the most extremist. And most Indians who follow soccer are the archetypal new convert extremists.
But, unfortunately for him, he starts his post with this:
I have been in America for 6 years now, and will most likely spend my life here. Like almost all Americans, I refer to what is played in the NFL as football, and what is played in the EPL as soccer.
Indians have been playing football, well at least since 1889 because that was when Mohun Bagan was formed. Let’s say, the above two statements basically puts Gaurav’s blog post as a contest between Indian football converts for 123+ years versus an American convert for 6 years.
One may also suspect that Gaurav is slightly enamoured by the big bucks and media glitz of EPL (like all Americans). Now any real football fan will know that English football is like boiled vegetables that is served along with your steak. You keep it aside and focus on the meat. At least we do. Maybe in the NFL they like their boiled vegetables. Which would partly why his naive use of EPL as synonymous to the sport.
Anyway, I think I have made enough of this inane post.