Football vs Soccer: Which Is Harder? Compare and Contrast

Football is a rugged outdoor game played on a rectangular field by two teams using an inflated ball. High school football, in general, follows the college rules. The differences between high school and college football, and to a lesser extent between college and professional football, stem partly from the rule changes designed to protect the players from injury. At each end of the football field is a goal line defended by one of the teams, and a pair of goalposts joined by a raised horizontal bar. The object is to score points by moving the ball across the opponents’ goal, or by kicking it between their goalposts (Aiken, 2001). The ball can be moved either by carrying it or passing it (throwing it to a teammate). The game is usually played for a fixed period of time; the team with more points at the end of that ship games, the final result can be a tie.

Football is played by more than 25 major-league professional teams, more than 600 college teams, as well as by a number of minor-league professional clubs, semiprofessional and amateur teams, and clubs for youngsters below high school age. On the other hand, soccer is the world’s most popular team sport. It is called “soccer” in the United States, “association football” in Great Britain, and simply “football” in most other countries.

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It is the national sport in many countries. In the United States has a growing following among adults, and is popular as an organized sport for youngsters and as a high school and college sport. Soccer is normally played on a rectangular grass field. Just like the football field, it has a goal of two vertical posts with a crossbar and a net in the back at each end (Widdows, 2004).  The object is to score points by knocking an inflated round ball into the opponents’ goal without using hands or arms which is opposite in football for its player can kick or pass as mentioned earlier. The game lasts for a fixed amount of time and the result may be a tie except in certain championship games.

There is no much difference between soccer and football except for its ball, number of players, and the measurements they have for their fields. In football, it is played on a field 100 yards (91.4 m) long (120 yards [109.7 m] including the two end zones) and 53 1/3 yards (48.8 m) wide. White stripes, called the yard lines, run across the filed at 5-yard (4.6m) intervals, giving the field a gridlike appearance that has led to its being called a gridiron. Two inbounds lines, each made up of a series of short stripes called hash marks, mark off the main playing area. The ball must be between the inbounds lines each time it is put into play.

Between the goal line and the end line at either end of the field is an end zone 10 yards (9.1 m) deep. The goalposts (officially called goals) are centered on the end line. The professional goal is a wishbone-shaped structure with two poles, called uprights, connected by a crossbar that is 18 ½ feet (5.6 m) long. The uprights, which begin at the crossbar, extend a minimum of 30 feet (9.1 m) above the crossbar. A single pole centered under the crossbar above the end line. The traditional college goal consists of two poles set 23 1/3 feet (7.1 m) apart, connected by a crossbar 10 feet (3 m) above the ground. The two poles extend to 10 or more feet beyond the crossbar.

Many colleges, however, use a professional type of goal built to college dimensions. The ball is an oval inflated rubber bladder covered with pebble-grained leather or rubber (not, as its nickname implies, with pigskin). It measures 11 to 11 ¼ inches (about 28 cm) in length and weights 14 to 15 ounces (397 to 425 g). The circumference at its greatest width is 21 ¼ to 21 ½ inches (about 54 cm). Moreover, the players wear numbered jerseys, knee-length pants, plastic helmets with face guards, and protective shoulder, hip, and knee pads that are most likely same with soccer (Wilkinson 2002).

The football team ordinarily consists of between 20 and 60 players. Each team is allowed to have 11 players on the field at any given time during the game. Liberal substitution rules permit a team to use a two-platoon system—one group of players for offense (when the team is in possession of the ball) and a second group for distance while in soccer, the field measures from 100 to 130 yards (90-120m) in length and from 50 to 100 yards (45-90m) in width (Aiken 2001). The most common size in the United States is 120 by 75 yards.

Each corner is marked with a flag. Each goal is 8 yards (7.32 m) wide and 8 ft. (2.44 m) high and deep. The leather- or rubber-covered ball is 27 to 28 inches (69-71 cm) in circumference and weighs 14 to 16 ounces. Players wear jerseys, shorts, knee socks, shin pads, and cleated shoes (Widdows, 2004). In addition, there is also an indoor version of the game, played mainly by professional teams in the United States.

The playing area is much smaller than a regulation outdoor field, with the result that the game is faster and higher scoring. Each team fields 11 players: a goalkeeper; four defensive players; two or three midfield players; and three or four forwards, depending on the team’s tactics. Generally, a limited number of substitutions are allowed. There are three officials: a referee and two linesmen.

Most games consist of 45-minute halves with a short rest period in between. High school games sometimes are divided into quarters. After a kickoff from the center circle, the players attempt to advance the ball toward the opponent’s goal by kicking it, bouncing it off their bodies, or butting it with their heads (Lever 2004). They must be adept at dribbling and passing the ball with their feet. The goalkeepers are the only players who may touch the ball with their hands while it is in play.

Unnecessary roughness, handling of the ball of player other than the goalkeeper, and other fouls are penalized by awarding the fouled-upon team a free kick at the point where the foul occurred. Opponents must stand 10 yards (9.14 m) away from the kicker. For fouls occurring within the penalty area (an area around the goal), a free kick 12 yards (11 m) from the goal at the penalty kick mark is awarded with only the opponent’s goalkeeper guarding (Lever 2004). The kicker is permitted a running approach to the ball from a maximum of 10 yards (9.14 m) away (at the restraining line).

In conclusion, soccer is tougher sport compared to football because soccer players cannot use their arms or hands when passing the ball to its teammate unlike football, they can kick or pass using their feet or hands. Moreover, the soccer players do not wear padding or headgear, compared to football, during the game which makes this sport tough.


  1. Aiken, Miles and Peter Rowe. American Football: the Records (Guinness Superlatives, 2001).
  2. Lever, Janet. Soccer Madness (University of Chicago, 2004).
  3. Widdows, Richard. The Arco Book of Soccer Techniques and Tactics (Arco, 2004).
  4. Wilkinson, Bud. Sports Illustrated Football: Defense, revised edition (Harper & Row, 2002).


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Football vs Soccer: Which Is Harder? Compare and Contrast. (2016, Sep 04). Retrieved from