American football and Soccer: similarities and differences

Like vocabulary and spelling, American football and Soccer have their similarities and differences. Both sports have Millions of passionate fans who follow them. There are many more differences than similarities. In football, a team has 11 offensive players and 11 defensive players. They do not play together. One team’s offense plays against the other team’s defense. In futbol, some players are responsible for both offense and defense. we will be discussing American football and Soccer: similarities and differences and the difference between soccer and football field.

American football and Soccer: similarities and differences

The football versus soccer fight rages on for years now and has sparked quite some controversy. Let’s start by saying that I will call football, as it is known around the world, soccer. What is often classified as American Football for this essay will be called football. Some of the controversies that have been sparked between the two are ones such as; “why is it called football when its only one player on the team is allowed to use his feet and is only done on small occasions?”, “which is more physical?” and issues as simple as which of the two requires more endurance. Most people may look at it one way when there is also another way to view these two legendary sports as I call them. As there may be differences between the two, there are also similarities. There are a lot of debates that goes on regards with football and soccer. Some consider that soccer is another name of football while others may argue that soccer is entirely different from football. In this paper a compare and contrast the two famous games, football and soccer will set us on a clearer path.

football vs soccer which is better

Football can be considered as the name for all the other sport where the players have to play with foot and ball in order to score. There are a number of football sports such as association football, gridiron football, and rugby football. Soccer is a commonly used name of association football. According to, the sport that was to become soccer was born in 1848, which is when the first formal set of rules was drawn up. These rules were what gave it the name “Association Football.” A breakaway group then created a separate sport where players were allowed to use their hands during play and this would become known as rugby. In turn, rugby would then cross the Atlantic and seed the growth of the sport Gridiron or in this case, become American Football.

The most controversial issue that a soccer fan will differentiate between soccer and American football is that soccer is played mainly by kicking the ball and it is only allowed to the goalkeeper to use his hands or if the ball goes out of bounds and requires what is called a throw in. American football in contrast, is played by throwing the ball and is only kicked when a field goal is required or in their terms a return punts. In soccer, kicking the ball to the other team is rarely or better yet, done on purpose. This is only done deliberately on fair play calls; these are events which happen in the process of whichever team has the ball while another player is forced to be looked at by medical officials during time of play. The ball is then played to the opposing team that was on offense. On the other hand, in football, that player is removed and the game is continued in whatever direction it was going before.

There are many similarities among soccer and football such as the concept of two goals on the opposite sides of the field where the players have to kick the ball and score. The main idea of the game is either to defend or offense the ball with the help of team. The number of players in the team on the field for both games is eleven. Both teams are also allowed to have up to twenty two players on their rosters. The difference between the games is due to the different rules that are applied. As we go on there are many more differences and similarities between the two sports.

First and foremost the players in football must be equipped with helmets, shoulder pads, girdle pads. While in soccer, the players only wear shin pads, and cleats. Another big difference between both the games is that the ball which is used to play in both sports is different from each other. The shape of the ball in football is oval while the ball that is used in soccer is a much more spherical in shape.

Obviously in both sports in order for a team to win, one has to gain more points than the other. In soccer, a goal is scored to gain points while in football a touch down is needed to gain points. Though this is so, there is also a similarity where a field goal is needed for extra points in football whereas the field goal kicker is allowed to kick the ball between the goals. A goal is scored in soccer by putting the ball into a net that is made up of two posts and a crossbar and each goal is one point. While in football, a touch down is six points and a field goal is three points. A touch down is scored in American football by touching the ball down over a touch line. The touchdown in American football can be scored by a pass or a run, while in soccer you may only use your head or your foot to score a goal. 

The field of play is a bit different in size matters. A football field is 120 yards long, including two 10 yard deep end zones on both end and 30 yards wide. A soccer field can range from 100 yards to 130 yards long and 50 to 100 yards wide. Another important factor of the two is the time frames. Soccer is played over 90 minutes and is split into two 45 minutes halves. While in football, the game goes on over just 60 minutes that are split into four quarters. Time outs are allowed in football but not in soccer. This also goes to show that more physical activity takes place during a soccer game, rather than on the football field.

Soccer matches can end in a draw/tie. However, in some competitions, 30 minutes of extra time is played to try to determine a winner and a penalty shoot may result if teams still can’t be separated. Football games are decided by 15 minutes overtime if they are tied after normal time. Soccer matches are usually played on natural grass pitches although in America, they are occasionally played on artificial pitches. In contrast, football games tend to be played on artificial pitches, like turf.

According to, there is also a big difference in terms of international popularity and distribution. Soccer is the dominant team sport across South America, Africa, Europe, and large parts of Asia. On the other hand, Football is dominant in North America. Another one of the reasons why soccer is more popular in world terms is that it is competitively at an international level. There is also numerous leagues through out the whole world with the most popular being The Barclays premier league. Although there are many tournaments through out the world only one takes the top spot. The World Cup Tournament, which takes place every four years between all countries who qualify. You take the best soccer players from your country, and recruit them to play for the country’s team. The World Cup has also been called the biggest sporting event in the world. Football has its Super Bowl but it’s a contradiction as it just involves North American club teams only. The super bowl is played between the top team in each conference in the NFL and, is the most watched single show in America.

Soccer is also more prevalent across the globe because not much equipment is needed to play it. As long as you have a ball, goals can be made from anything as far garbage bins, rocks and backpacks from my experiences to start a game. Football is more physical and therefore protective equipment is required which makes it less suited for young children and less accessible to people in poorer countries. The game of soccer is predominantly a sport that is dominated at professional level by men. However, female professional leagues have started to appear. As far as my opinion goes and as far as I’m aware, football has not obtained the same level of participation from women.

There are two players that dominate each sport and, now we will discuss who has impacted the sport. In football you have Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos, who currently dominating the NFL with nineteen touchdown in 4 games. Peyton is on root to breaking every single record set by quarterbacks. In addition to be outstanding on the field he has led the broncos to an astonishing five and zero record. Peyton has also increased broncos tickets by fiftteen percent, the most any one football player has affected ticket sales in the history of the NFL. On the other hand you have the so called “God” of modern soccer Lionel Messi. Lionel Messi is currently third on the all time goals list in the world, and according to he has 7 more years left in his before he really starts to decline. He is expected to take the reign of all time leading goal scorer by fifty-four goals. When Messi was traded to Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League prices increased for the first game an astonishing thirty-two percent. For the regular season tickets prices have went up eighteen percent. Messi has also led Chelsea to two Premier league championships in the three years which is outstanding considering Peyton is still seeking his first Super Bowl in Denver. Overall Messi definitely takes the crown for athlete that has impacted their sport the most. 

In conclusion there may be many be many things different about the two sports, but the fans are very similar in their love of the sport. They have their teams they cheer for and teams they love to hate. In a nut shell we can conclude that both the games are based upon the use of foot and ball but different in terms of application of rules. The difference and similarities will become broader with the increasing trend of the two “Titan” sports.

Soccer is called Association football, or more commonly simply football in most of the world. In America, the word football refers to American football, which has more in common with rugby than with soccer.

Comparison chart

American FootballSoccer
current rating is 3.53/512345 (2589 ratings)current rating is 4.19/512345 (1212 ratings)
Number of players11 players per team on the field at any point of time11 players per team on the field at any point of time, including a goal keeeper
Object of the GameObject of the game is to score points by carrying the ball beyond the opponents touch line. (Each such instance is called a touch down). Also scoring by kicking it between the goal post called a Field Goal.To score goal. There is a goal at each end of the field. The object of the game is to put the ball in your opponents goal.
Time limitFour 15-minute quarters, with a half-time intermission after the second quarter. The game clock stops frequently between plays.90 minutes. 45 minutes for each half of the game.there is added time to make up for time elapsed.
BallA prolate spheroid which is about 11 inches (28 cm) long and about 22 inches (56 cm) in circumference at the center and weighs around 0.875lbs.A spherical ball
Major LeagueNational Football League (NFL)Barclay’s Premier League (England), La Liga (Spain), Bundesliga(Germany), Serie A (Italy), Ligue 1 (France)
What is it?American football is a game with intense physical aggression with players that have speed, power, and explosiveness that requires helmets and padding to be worn.Soccer (called fútbol or football in most countries) is the most popular sport in the world. The objective of the game is to score goals by kicking the ball into the net behind the goal post.
CountriesUSA, CanadaWorldwide
FieldLength: 120 yards (109.728 meters) in total (100 yards (91.44 meters) of playing field, with two 10-yard (9.144 meters) end zones) Width: 160 feet (48.768 meters)Standard–> Touch line (length): 90 m (100 yd) to 120 m (130 yd); Goal line (width) : 45 m (50 yd) to 90 m (100 yd) International matches –> Touch line (length): 100 m (110 yd) to 110 m (120 yd); Goal line (width) : 64 m (70 yd) to 75 m (80 yd)
Current World ChampionsKansas City ChiefsFrance
Number of Umpires / Referees3 to 6 referees plus booth review3 referees
SubstitutionUnlimited3 players per game
Highest governing bodyNFLFIFA
Player SizeNFL player brandon banks 70 kg. (155 lbs.) was at one point 67 kg. (149 lbs.) is the lightest NFL player since 2010 while the largest NFL player was 162.3kg (358 lbs.) The largest running back is 122kg (268 lbs.) Brandon jacobs.any size. Taller players are preferred for defending
Protective gearHelmet, Shoulder/Chest pad/protector, upper leg padding and mouthguard are rightfully required.Shin gaurds, Boots.
Major TournamentsNFL PlayoffsWorld Cup, UEFA Champions League, FA Cup, Copa del Rey, DFB Pokal, Coppa Italia, Coupe de France

There are two popular kinds of football in the world, American football, and football, also known as “soccer” in the United States.

Fans of both sports often fight about which one is better. Most Americans love American football, as it is the most popular sport in the United States. On the flip side, soccer is more popular in the rest of the world. 

In this article, we will examine the differences and similarities between both sports. 

Note: To prevent confusion, we will use the term ‘football’ for the American sport, while “soccer” for the type of football known as the world most popular sport. 

compare and contrast football and soccer

1. Scoring System: Touchdowns vs. Goals 

The main objective is the same in both American football and soccer ‒ you need to outscore your opponent if you want to win the game.

However, in football, players obtain points by scoring touchdowns, which involves carrying the ball beyond the opponent’s goal line. A touchdown is worth six points, and the scoring team gets to kick a field goal, which is worth one point.

In soccer, the players obtain points by scoring goals, which involves kicking the ball into the opponent’s goal. The side which scores more goals wins the game. If the teams have the same number of points at the end of the game, it ends in a tie. 

Football touchdown vs. Soccer Goal

2. Time limit

The time limit is another big difference between football and soccer. A game of football is played in four 15-minute quarters, with a half-time break after the second quarter. Soccer is played in two halves of 45 minutes, with a 15-minute break between them.

Another difference regarding the time is the fact that football has an option for a timeout, and the game clock also stops frequently between plays.

In soccer, the clock never stops ticking. However, there is something called injury time, which is added after the regular 90 minutes. The amount of injury time is usually the estimated time lost due to injuries or other reasons for stoppage of play.

3. Overtime

American don’t like ties. If you look at their most popular sports, you will notice that they almost never result in ties. A game may end regulation time without a winner, but then the game goes to overtime.

During the regular season in the NFL, a 10 minute overtime is played. If the game is still tied after the overtime period, it officially ends in a draw. In the playoffs, of course, a winner must be decided.

A tie is always possible in domestic soccer championships, meaning both sides have won one point each from the game. However, in the knockout stage of a competition, there must be a winner. So if the match is tied after the end of regulation, there are two extra overtime periods of 15 minutes each. If no one wins during those periods, the winner is decided by a penalty shootout.

Result 0-0, shootout after overtime 4-2 to DIF soccer
Stefan Holm /

4. The game rules

Football and soccer are two different sports, so it is normal for them to have different rules. One of the most notable rule differences is the use of the hands.

Despite being called football, the players mostly use their hands during the course of play. In soccer, only the goalkeeper is allowed to touch the ball with his hands ‒ and only in a restricted area called the “penalty box.”

Physical tackling is also allowed in football, while it is strictly prohibited in soccer. Soccer players actually get sent off for aggressively tackling other players, while that kind of contact is encouraged in football. 

5. Substitutes

Substitutes are common in team sports. They allow coaches to rest injured players or those who are not performing well.

However, the substitute rule is different in football and soccer. 

In football, the coach is allowed to make as many substitutes he wants. He usually has two different teams for attacking and defending, and is constantly switching the players depending on the situation on the field.

In soccer, coaches can make only three substitutes during a game. Additionally, once a player is taken off, he is not permitted to return.

6. The equipment

Football player (red) vs Soccer Player (green)

Another apparent difference between football and soccer is the players’ equipment.

Players in each sport always wear a jersey with the team’s logo and their names on the back, these are the only equipment-related similarities.

In American football, the players are required to wear lots of protective gear, including helmets, shoulder pads, girdle pads, and gloves. In soccer, players only wear shin pads and boots.

Having listed some of the difference between football and soccer, let’s now have a look into the things that make these two sports similar to one another.

Similarities Between Football and Soccer. 

1. Both sports are played with a ball

The ball is the fundamental object used in both American football and soccer. Without a ball, one would not be able to play either sport.

The football and the soccer ball have some key differences between them. 

In soccer, the ball has a spherical shape. It is perfectly round and weighs between 410 grams and 450 grams. It has a circumference of 68 cm to 70 cm, depending on the ball in question.

The American football is a prolate spheroid about 28 cm long and about 56 cm in circumference at the center. It also weighs around 400 grams.

Sketch soccer versus american football ball, background
Ka_Li /

2. Playing surface

The surface is the most obvious similarity between football and soccer, as both sports are played on a grass surface.

A football field is 120 yards long in total ‒ 100 yards of playing field and two 10-yard end zones. Its standard width is 160 feet, or around 50 meters.

A soccer field’s length ranges between 100 and 130 yards, while it ranges from 60 to 70 meters wide.

3. Number of players

Both Football and soccer allow 11 players per team at any point of time on the field.

The players’ formation and their movements are quite different, though.

In football, the whole team attacks and defends in one line, while soccer is played through three different zones ‒ defense, midfield, and attack.

Soccer players tend to stay in their zone for most of the game, unless the coach gives them different instructions.

4. Tactics

Tactics are a vital component in both soccer and American football.

Every single time an underdog has defeated a favorite in either soccer or football, it’s been thanks to great tactics and solid application of those tactics to the game.

Both soccer teams and football teams have a variety of useful tactics, as well as coaches who come up with them. And in both sports, the coaches have a full staff behind them ‒ people that analyze the strengths, flaws, and vulnerabilities of both teams.

These tactics can involve different kinds of actions, attacking combinations or ways to defend the opposition’s most dangerous players. Coaches can also change tactics during the games, depending on the result and the game flow.

5. Playmakers

Both football and soccer clubs have playmakers on their squads. These players change the game when they’re on the field, making them the most important players on the team. 

In American football, the playmaker is also called quarterback, and he is almost always the most important player on the team. The quarterback takes the biggest responsibility during games, as he is the strategist who executes his team’s attacks. 

Like football, the playmaker in soccer is also the player who controls the flow of the game. He is naturally gifted with the ball, and his primary task is to create scoring opportunities. He usually plays in the midfield position, and has great dribbling technique and a wide passing range. 

6. Both sports are played at stadiums

Unlike some other popular sports ‒ such as basketball, handball, and hockey ‒ both football and soccer are played at stadiums under the open sky.

It doesn’t matter if it rains or snows ‒ in both soccer and football, the players need to be ready to play under many different weather conditions.

Aerial drone footage of Seattle Centurylink Field football and soccer
Felix Mizioznikov /

The stadiums that soccer and football are played in are also bigger than other sports arenas, which means more people can attend these games.

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