The Difference Between Soccer & Football


Americans have football and soccer, but what Americans know as soccer is called football elsewhere. This might make it confusing, but the sports aren’t very much alike. While both games are played with 11 players on each side, the differences between football and soccer are in the rules, the necessary skills and the scoring methods.


The objective in both sports is to outscore your opponents. Scoring occurs in the goal in soccer and the end zone in football. The methods of moving the ball up the field and gaining points are different and require different skills, since a soccer ball is round and smooth and is mostly kicked, while a football is oval, has laces on one side for grip, and is either thrown or carried.


Football and soccer fields have slightly different dimensions. Football fields are 100 yards long and 160 feet wide, with end zones of 10 yards in length. Soccer is played on fields that are 120 yards long and 70 yards wide, with goals 8 yards wide and high.

Soccer Rules

Soccer games are played with 11 players on each team, with offensive and defensive players on the field at the same time. Except for the goalkeeper, players can’t use their hands to move the ball. While they technically can use any other part of their body, players primarily use their feet and head to control, pass, and hit the ball. For the most part, play is continuous until a goal is scored. Players move from one end to the other and back, as the ball is moved.

Football Rules

Football is also played with 11 players on the field, but all will play either offensive or defensive at one time, depending on which team has possession of the ball.
The game follows a series of plays and there are pauses between plays. To start a play, the ball is hiked from the center to another player, usually the quarterback. In a running play, one player tries to move the ball past the defense toward the end zone; in a passing play, a passer–usually the quarterback–tries to throw the ball to a player down the field. Once a player with the ball is tackled, runs out of bounds or scores, or if a thrown pass is incomplete or intercepted by the defense, the game is paused. A new play will start from the position the ball ended up.


The only way to gain a point in soccer is to score a goal by hitting the ball across the goal line. Every goal is worth one point. In football, there several ways to score. A team scores a touchdown by moving the ball into the end zone. This is worth six points. After the touchdown, a team gets one chance for an additional point or two. It scores one point by kicking the ball through the goalposts or two points for moving the ball into the end zone from two yards away. Besides a touchdown, a team can score three points for a field goal, which is kicking the ball from the team’s position on the field through the goal posts, or two points for a safety, which is done on defense by tackling an offensive player with the ball in his own end zone.

About this Author

Andrew Sheldon is a writer from New York. His writing focuses on health and exercise, but he is knowledgeable in various other areas. Sheldon has published articles on and He graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Science degree.