Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Soccer or Football?: Heineken Settles the Debate

"I wasn't born in America and arriving here wasn't easy for me...I thought I'd never fit in, but over time-I gained their respect...I'm an American now."
"You got to prove yourself to make it in America...I heard that I'd never make it, but I proved them wrong."
"They said I wasn't born in the right country...but I earned their respect."

It's all about the journey, right? These statements sound like personal stories from newly minted citizens or from immigrants who have gone through Hell and back chasing their dreams to get to the U.S. and become successful.

Actually, these are some of the key phrases from Heineken's daring campaign, "Soccer Is Here." The marketing campaign has blitzed the soccer Tv landscape in the U.S. for the past few months with some adept, stylish and charming announcements. They were made with enough variety in them to keep the surprises going for a while for the consumers. I enjoy them and wish they had made more of them. Heineken has always been edgy when it comes to soccer ads.

What should the 'beautiful game' be called in the United States, Soccer, Football or Futbol? Heineken has taken its stance in the most elegant of ways with four spots, three :15-second commercials involving superstars David Villa, Landon Donovan and Carli Lloyd and one :30-second commercial made to highlight the supporter fandom culture of soccer.

It's the age-old argument for many soccer purists living in the U.S. Many would tell you the game should be called football here, even if American tackle football owns the moniker.

All of the advertisements end with the same line(s)... "You can call me Soccer." or "My name is Soccer."

The most recent U.S. Heineken ads involving the world's sport have had no problem declaring how the game should be referred to by Americans. And, yet, sometimes, it's still hard to believe that we don't call the game 'football.' In many ways, 'Football' makes the most sense for the the sport because it's a game played with feet. A person without hands could still have a stellar career with the game. Ironically, American tackle football hardly ever uses the feet to touch the ball.

Does the U.S. lose respect around the world for not calling the game 'Football'? Does it matter?

The name certainly sets us apart and automatically differentiates us. We are left only to embrace the name and embrace our differences compared to those other major soccer countries from around the world.


  1. Let's not forget the origins of the words "Football" and "Soccer". In the very early days of sport, only the aristocrats participated. Almost all of these sports were on horseback. So, when the commoner started playing multiple sports on foot, with a ball, they were all called "football". Not because you USED your foot on the ball, but because you were PLAYING ON FOOT instead of on a horse.

    Because there were lots of sports with the name "football", the sport was given the full name of "Association Football". Eventually, people started calling people that played this sport "Assoccers" (due to the "Assoc. Football" abbreviation), which was eventually shortened to just "Soccer". This name was born in Great Britain, the home of the sport, and migrated to a few other parts of the world. Eventually, the British stopped calling it soccer, switched to "football", and started mocking others for using the name that they themselves had created.

    Let's not forget that the full name of the sport is "Association Football", so to call it that, or Soccer, or Football, is legitimately using part of the name. However, saying just "football" is the most ambiguous of these options, as there are MANY versions of football around the world, and I'm not sure how Association Football somehow gained a Monopoly on this word. Use the word football if you want, but in my opinion, "soccer" is more appropriate, because no one will be confused what sport you're referring to.

    1. Great delineation; good history lesson! Let's not forget there's Australian Football, too.