It’s hilarious trying to watch football or soccer with my mother. You’d think because she barely knows ten players, she’d be any less of a fan. That woman can squeal. Did I mention her favorite teams? None! She’ll keep switching sides, depending on who makes a goal or touchdown.
At such times, I forget all the whooping we’ve been getting lately: I’m a Liverpool die-hard.
At least the Philadelphia Eagles, my football faves, are doing pretty decent.
But Liverpool’s woes and the Eagles’ winnings aside, football vs. soccer is an old, crumbling debate.
Football is, at its core, a more physical sport. It’s a sport where you’re constantly running, jumping, and tackling. Soccer is a more strategic game, demanding more skill.
So, which is better?
It’s tough to say. Both sports have their pros and cons. Dive in as I help you find the best for you.
The game we now know as football originated in England in the 12th century. At the time, it was a rough-and-tumble game played in the streets with no real rules. Football began to take on its modern form in the late 1800s when colleges began playing it.
The first professional football game was in 1892, and the first professional football league was developed in 1920.
In 1897, the first fully-professional football club, Latrobe Athletic Association, was founded. That marked a major turning point for the sport, signaling its transition from a hobby to a more serious and organized activity.
Now, who invented soccer?
Soccer has its origins in China. The game made use of a leather ball stuffed with feathers and hair. It was known as “tsu’ chu” and served as a soldier training exercise. The game then made its way to England, where it was a popular keep-fit sport for the upper class.
It wasn’t until 1863 that Ebenezer Cobb Morley, considered soccer’s inventor, proposed the first official rules. These rules got adopted by the Football Association developed in the same year.
Like with football, the game of soccer continued to evolve and grow in popularity. In 1904, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) was founded, and the first World Cup was held in 1930.
Football vs. Soccer: An Overview
Short on time? Here are the key differences between football and soccer.
|Game Objective||To gain points by bringing the ball to the opposition’s end zone. Touchdowns are worth six points, conversions after touchdowns are worth one point, and field goals are worth three points.||To score goals by sending the ball into the opposition’s goal. Whoever has the most points wins with three points; the loser gets zero, while tied teams have a point each.|
|Equipment||Mouthguard, upper leg padding, helmet, chest/shoulder pads/protectors||Boots, shin guards|
|Players||11 strong players with sturdy legs, broad backs, and wide shoulders||11 players, ideally with a mesomorph body type (muscular yet lean)|
|Referees||3-6 and booth reviews||Three|
|Field||– A 100-yard playing field plus two end zones sized 10 yards for 120 yards total (109.728 meters)- 160 feet in width (48.768 meters)||For standard matches– 100-120-yard length/touchline (91.44-109.728 meters)- 50-100-yard width/goal line (45-90 meters)|
For international competitions– 110-120-yard length (100-110 meters)- 70-80-yard width (64-75 meters)
|Timeouts||– Four ¼-hour sessions with half time between quarters two and three- There are frequent game clock stops||– Two 45-minute sessions with a half time between them- Extra time in the end to cater to elapsed time|
|Contact||Yes (lots of collisions)||Yes|
|Countries||US, Canada,Australia, Bahamas,Belgium, Austria,Brazil, Cuba, Denmark, China,Egypt, Finland,Germany,India, France,Ireland, Israel,Japan, Mexico,Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal,Puerto Rico, Poland,Romania, Russia,South Korea, Spain,Serbia, Sweden,Switzerland, UK||Global|
|Leagues and Tournaments||– NFL Regular Season- Super Bowl- NFL Play-offs- American Football World Championships||– Major League Soccer- Serie A- FIFA competitions- Brasileirao- Argentine Primera- AFC Cup- Liga MX- Eredivisie- SAFF Championship- Ukrainian Premier League · – AFF Cup- La Liga- Bundesliga- English Premier League- Olympic Tournaments- International Friendly- UEFA competitions- CONCACAF competitions- Copa America- AFCON- WAFU Cup of Nations|
Round 1 – Game Objective
The goal of a football game is to grab points by running the ball into the opposition’s end zone and scoring a touchdown. It also comprises kicking the ball via their goalposts to score a field goal. In soccer, the objective is to score goals by kicking the ball into the net.
While the objectives of the two sports are different, both require players to have good hand-eye coordination, stamina, and strategic thinking.
American football is more physical than soccer, as players often have to block and tackle opponents. Soccer is more technical; players need to control and pass the ball well.
Round 2 – Equipment and Accessories
Both sports require a ball. Soccer ball sizes are typically between 18 and 28 inches in circumference and comprise leather or synthetic materials.
In American football, the ball is typically between 21 inches (shorter side) and 28 inches (longer side) in circumference. The length is 11 or 11.25 inches, with the ball comprised of synthetic materials.
The best football to buy should be comfortable for the player and the correct size. For instance, sizes one and two of soccer balls are for all ages and suit practice. Size three balls are for those under eight, size four suits 8-12-year-olds, while size five is suitable above 12 years.
Now let’s look at the differences.
The player will also need a visor, girdle, gloves, football helmet, and wrist tape in American football.
Training is crucial with the best soccer training equipment, such as cones, ladders, and hurdles required.
The difference between soccer and football cleats is that soccer cleats have fewer studs and are lighter.
On the other hand, football cleats include a midsole for comfort and an extra cleat to improve traction.
You must understand basic things like how to put pads in football pants to ensure they are secure and not too loose. The same goes for how to wash a football girdle or how to clean cleats so they don’t get damaged easily.
Round 3 – Players
Football players are typically larger and have more muscle mass than soccer players. The average NFL player is 6-feet-2-inches and weighs 245 pounds. The average soccer player is 5-feet-11-inches and weighs 170 pounds.
This size difference is partly because football is a collision sport, while soccer is not.
Besides, football players must wear helmets and other protective equipment, which adds to their weight. Soccer players are lean and muscular to help them move fast.
You may wonder, “Why do soccer players wear bras?” Due to the quick-paced nature of matches, players wear bras to help keep GPS trackers intact. These trackers help determine a player’s average heart rate, calories spent, distance covered, and other important statistics.
Both games start their match with each team having 11 players. However, mistakes happen, which may reduce the number of players in a team. For instance, a soccer team can lose up to four players and continue the game with seven players.
Players must sharpen their skills with soccer conditioning drills to ensure they have a good chance if they lose members during a match. These typically involve dribbling, shooting, and other basic movements.
Football teams can also lose players due to mistakes like targeting. While the offense requires at least seven players at the scrimmage line, the minimum number for the defense isn’t within the rulebook.
Besides, football games with fewer players occur on smaller fields, allowing players more touches. For instance, there is an eight-man football with eight players on each side. There’s also 7 on 7 football with as many players as it sounds.
The five most important positions in football are the quarterback, edge pass-rusher, inside pass-rusher, offensive tackle, and safety.
Meanwhile, goalkeepers, center-backs, central midfielders, and strikers.
Round 4 – Field and Stadium
The average soccer field vs. football field is about the same size. However, there are variations in size for both sports.
A typical American football field features a 100-yard length with two end zones, each measuring 10 yards. The field’s width is 53.3 yards or 160 feet.
A soccer field is generally rectangular, with the length being greater than the width. The dimensions of a soccer field can vary depending on the level of play.
For example, a regulation field for international soccer matches is 110-120 yards lengthwise, with the width ranging from 70-80 yards. However, the dimensions of a standard match soccer field can range anywhere from 100-120 yards with a width of 50-100 yards.
In terms of stadiums, the oldest NFL stadium is Chicago’s Soldier Field, built in 1924. However, the Green Bay Packers’ Lambeau Field is the longest-used NFL field.
On the other hand, the oldest soccer stadium still operational is the UK’s Racecourse Ground, which opened in 1807.
Round 5 – Fundamentals:
While both games often involve 11 players, the way the games go down is different in most areas.
In football, players can advance the ball by throwing it, kicking it, or running. Soccer players can only advance the ball by kicking it.
Another big difference is that football occurs on a grass field with yard lines and end zones. Soccer happens on a rectangular field with fewer lines.
The scoring system is also different. In football, you score points by hitting the ball via the opposition’s goal (worth three points). You get the most points by carrying the ball into their end zone (worth six points). A successful conversion post a touchdown adds a point.
In soccer, you score points by sending the ball into the opposition’s net. The highest-scoring team gets three points at the match’s end, while the loser gets none. A tie is worth a point per team.
There are also differences in the gameplay. American football is a physical game with a lot of tackling and blocking. Soccer isn’t as physical, but there’s still some contact between players.
In terms of timeouts, soccer has far fewer stoppages than football. So, how long is a soccer game? A soccer game typically lasts 90 minutes, with a break for halftime.
How long do football games last? Football games typically last 60 minutes, with four 15-minute quarters. There are also numerous timeouts in football, which adds lots of extra time.
How to Play
American football is a contact sport with a prolate spheroid-shaped ball, while soccer uses a round ball.
Given the oval shape, you need to know how to throw a football to excel in American football. You should hold the ball correctly with the laces on top and four fingers over them. Your thumbs should be underneath the ball.
On the other hand, you need to know how to kick a soccer ball, depending on the action you’re trying to achieve. For instance, you should pass the ball with your insides, not your toes.
Round 6 – Coaches
American football coaches tend to focus on strategy and play-calling. Soccer coaches focus on player development and tactics. That isn’t to claim that one is superior; only that they’re distinct from one another.
Soccer’s head coach works alongside assistants with specific responsibilities like goalkeeper improvement. Football tends to have more coaches to attend to the different factions, including special, offensive, and defensive teams.
Some of the most successful football coaches include Vince Lombardi and Bill Belichick.
On the other hand, here are some longtime soccer coaches with careers spanning over ten teams:
- Carlo Ancelotti teams coached: PSG, Reggiana, Milan, Juventus, Parma, Everton, Chelsea, Napoli, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich
- Ralf Rangnick teams coached: Lokomotiv Moscow, Manchester United, Schalke 04, Ulm 1846, RB Leipzig, VfB Stuttgart, Hannover 96, Reutlingen, SC Korb, TSV Lippoldsweiler, VfB Stuttgart II, FC Viktoria Backnang
Round 7 – Popularity
Football is more popular than soccer in the United States. That’s because football is more widely televised. American football has a more developed professional league structure, with more teams and fans.
However, soccer is more popular globally. It’s the most popular sport in many countries, with over 250 million players.
Round 8 – Viewership
With 17.1 million average regular season viewers in 2021, the NFL enjoyed its highest viewership in six years. The sport boasted 2021’s 13 most-watched sports events in the US. Leading the park was the Super Bowl, with 91.6 million viewers.
However, this pales in comparison to soccer’s World Cup events. The last one attracted 1.1 billion live viewers during the France and Croatia final.
Round 9 – Fans
Football fans are some of the most passionate fans in the world. They live and breathe their team and do anything to support them.
Soccer fans are just as passionate about their teams but also deeply love the game itself. They appreciate the beauty of the sport and the skills of the players.
Both fans can be very tribal but also welcoming to fans of other teams.
Now, can football fans keep the ball? Occasionally, players gift a ball to a fan after a game. The same isn’t the case with soccer, where fans throw the ball back if it goes outside the field.
Round 10 – Revenue
Soccer and football teams are amongst the wealthiest. Based on 2021’S data, Dallas Cowboys leads the way with $8 billion. The Patriots and the Rams follow it, ensuring the NFL commands all the top three.
Soccer teams aren’t doing shabby either, with the 13th-placed Real Madrid worth $5.1 billion.
The average NFL player salary is $2.7 million, with quarterbacks enjoying the largest share at a $7 million average.
And how much do NFL refs make? The average salary for an NFL referee is $205,000.
What about soccer? How much do soccer players make?
The average salary for a soccer player in Major League Soccer is $472,008. However, some players enjoy almost twice as much on average. For instance, Toronto FC players take home $928,477 on average.
Nonetheless, the best players in the premier league dwarf the NFL’s top cream regarding payment. For instance, Mbappe, Messi, and Ronaldo make $128, $120, and $100 million yearly.
On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers will pocket $50.2 million each season for the next three years.
Round 11 – Leagues and Tournaments
The American football season has two parts: the regular season and the playoffs. The regular season has 17 games played over 18 weeks.
The top teams in each division then qualify for the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament. The playoffs culminate in the Super Bowl.
The regular soccer season is longer, with a team playing 38 games. In the Premier League, the top division in England, each team duels others twice, once away and the other time in their home stadium. The squad with the greatest points after match 38 wins.
There are cup competitions that take place throughout the season, which are open to all teams in the league. The most prestigious of these is the Champions League, a competition between the top European teams.
Soccer vs. Football FAQs: Top-Most Burning Questions
Why Do Americans Call It Soccer?
Americans call it soccer because they take it as a corruption of the word “association,” as in the Football Association. The term “soccer” comes from England, where the sport originated. Most countries use “football” to refer to the sport.
Why Soccer is the Best Sport?
Soccer is the best sport because it doesn’t require much equipment and is easily accessible. People of all ages, from all walks of life, and from all corners of the globe play it. Soccer is a simple game that can everyone can enjoy.
Why is Football Better than Soccer?
Football is better than soccer because it’s more exciting and faster-paced. Football has more scoring, and the game is generally more enjoyable to watch.
Is Football Harder than Soccer?
Football isn’t harder than soccer, but rather the opposite is true. Soccer requires more stamina and mental toughness than football does. Football is more about strength and brute force, while soccer is more about speed, agility, and quick thinking.
What Countries Play American Football?
US and Canadian countries play American football the most. However, the UK, Australia, and Brazil, among other nations, also enjoy the sport.
Here’s the thing: both sports are amazing in their own right. They both require split-second decisions, excellent hand-eye coordination, and amazing stamina.
But back to the primary question. Football vs. soccer: which is better?
It’s tough to say which sport is better, football or soccer. They both have their pros and cons. It depends on what you’re looking for in a sport.
If you want a more physical sport, football is the better choice. Soccer is the way to go if you’re looking for a more strategic game.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which sport you prefer. Either way, you’ll have a fun way to spend your time. However, if you are still undecided, then why not try both? You may be surprised at how much you enjoy both football and soccer.
And if you need more tips, check out our in-depth guides on the best soccer and football drills.