Futbol or Football, it’s all about us

Americans already have a “football” and so come into conflict with a majority of the world when our television broadcasters have to say “soccer” and assuage the confusion of US viewers when confronted by everyone else’s “football.” And ironic too, the sportscasters like to explain, compounding their error, because it’s about the foot and the ball, unlike domestic football which is about using your hands to carry an un-spherical bladder. But this humor presumes another American overreach: “Futbol” incorporates “foot” and “ball” only if you speak English.

In a preponderance of languages, futbol defines neither foot nor ball, and mimics simply the phonetic term used by the British, whose colonial representatives were responsible for spreading the game across the world. As long time English speakers, the Brits have no difficulty with differentiating football from American Football. But Americans didn’t come by the term “soccer” on its own, which brings to light the other side to the complexity of FIFA’s hope to standardize the World Cup experience. Americans are not alone in resisting globalization’s attack on their cultural identity. A great deal of the world doesn’t call it FOOTBALL either.

To survey just the languages which share our Arabic alphabet, here’s how others refer to what we call soccer: Sokker (Afrikaans), Fodbold (Danish), Voetbal (Dutch), Jalgpall (Estonian), Jalkapallo (Finnish), Labdarúgás (Hungarian), Calcio (Italian), Sepak bola (Indonesian), Putbol (Filipino), Peil (Irish), Pêl-droed (Welsh), Pi?ka no?na (Polish), and Nogomet (Croatian).

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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1 Response to Futbol or Football, it’s all about us

  1. Avatar Brother Jonah says:

    At least they don’t play it with Viking skulls anymore.
    To be nice and almost fair to the English, the reason they didn’t bury the Viking dead was they were, themselves, decimated by the battle. Didn’t have the manpower.
    A lovely game with lovely origins.

    What was really cool is the way they applied English “civilization” to the game of polo, which has about the same original intent.
    Would that the two games were the ONLY ways they have of replaying wars.

    That was about the only thing realistic about Rambo3. The Taliban and others playing polo with a Russian officer… or part of him… You notice, too, that they don’t do a Rambo marathon on Cable Latenight anymore, something about blowing away half the state troopers in Oregon doesn’t sit with the Reich Wing very well, and the last one involves making heroes of the Taliban so they don’t like that one either…
    So they just do the middle one where he goes back to VietNam and does what the entire might of the U.S. failed to do…

    I managed to watch First Blood, once, Rambo, once, then when Propaganda3 came on, got through a couple of scenes and decided my bullshit ration was filled for a few years at least.
    Maybe they could just play a game of soccer against both countries, get humiliated and come home.
    Instead of playing a game of War against them, getting humiliated, and coming home. If they skipped the Going Away part they could also make the Coming Home Humiliated part well, not happen.

    And in a properly run game of soccer, nobody gets killed, that’s the neat part. OK so a few fans might off each other in the after game drunken riots, but it doesn’t compare in scope.

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