Why Football is Called the Beautiful Game: A Deep Exploration

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

Association football, soccer, football, voetbal, futbol. Whatever name you call the most popular sport in the world, there is one nickname that we can all agree on, “the beautiful game.” But have you ever wondered where soccer got this popular nickname from?

In this blog, we’ll discuss the origins of football and we will give the best reasons that helped it earn its poetic nickname.

why is football called the beautiful game Image by Manu mangalassery:

Origins of the Beautiful Game of Football

The roots of the beautiful game can be traced back to Ancient China and the Aztec Empire, but it wasn’t until the 1850s that football became a standardized sport in England. English football clubs played a huge role in shaping the game in the early days and have also played a huge role in establishing the modern rules, positions, and formations of the game today.

The working class and young men from English public schools were among the first to embrace this new, exciting sport. Forming teams and adopting standard rules, such as the Cambridge Rules, helped establish a more structured and organized version of football.

As the game gained popularity, it earned the title of “the beautiful game” for various reasons. The simplicity and elegance of the game, the teamwork involved, the unpredictability, and the sheer joy it brings to fans and players.

The word “soccer” itself comes from association football, emphasizing the ‘soc’ in ‘association.’ While the term is more commonly used in the United States and Canada, it has also become a globally recognized name for the sport.

why is football called the beautiful game

Image by Valentin B. Kremer

Why is Football called the Beautiful Game?

In this post, I’ll discuss the various reasons why football is called “the beautiful game”, but the most straightforward answer is that it is beautiful to watch. The term translates to “o jogo bonito” in Portuguese and was popularized by football icon Pele, although its true origin can be argued.

From the minute the ref blows the initial whistle until the final whistle, the game is full of chaos, unpredictability, and two teams trying to score more goals than the opponent, one of the most exciting parts of the game. If you have ever heard real soccer commentators, you would know that they usually go overboard whenever a team scores, and this helps add to the excitement.

The beautiful game is also full of many different playing styles; some games are fast-paced, while others may be slower. If you are new to the sport, it’s best to find a team you enjoy watching play to help you create more passion for the sport, as some games may bore you while exciting other fans.

why is football called the beautiful game

Image by Grant Durr


Besides being visually appealing to watch, football is also a very simple game that pretty much anyone can play and improve at anytime and anywhere. You do not need a lot of equipment and all you really need to start enjoying any variation of the game is a ball and your feet.

Cleats are another important part of the game, but they are only mandatory if you are playing the outdoor grass version and in a competitive environment. It doesn’t even matter if you are young, old, male, female, rich, poor, blind, in a wheelchair, or one-legged.

As long as there is a ball you can find a way to play this game and there are actually many variations of the game that allow disabled people to play, which is why this is really the world’s sport.

It is also very interesting to look at how many of the best players in the world come from simple and humble childhoods, where they just played the game all day long, oftentimes having to play barefoot without a choice, which leads me to the next reason on why the sport has this nickname.

why is football called the beautiful gameImage by Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz :

Rags-to-Riches Stories

Another reason why football gets this nickname is that any player can defy the odds, become a professional player, and make their dreams a reality. Players from anywhere on the planet can develop enough talent to make it to the top of world football, and this sport is different from other sports in the sense that it does not matter how old you are, how young you are, how tall you are, how short you are, or how fast you are.

If you are talented, athletic, and have the right mindset, then none of the factors I mentioned previously really matter and you can find all types of players, with completely different physical and mental attributes, playing at the highest level.

The biggest clubs in the world spend millions of dollars on talent that they find in places like the slums of Argentina, the barrios of Brazil, a village in Africa, places where the living conditions may not be ideal, and it is because these environments and situations give the players no other option but to succeed at football to feed their families.

One of the biggest rags-to-riches stories of all time is Jamie Vardy’s story who only began playing professionally at age 25, proving that it is never too late to make it in football. Despite starting his professional career so late, by the standards of most people, Vardy managed to win the Premier League with Leicester City and make appearances for the England National Team.

Jamie Vardy’s autobiography is one of the best soccer books to learn about his amazing story and to gain motivation.

why is football called the beautiful game Image by Rémi Jacquaint


In the same way, any player can shine in this sport, even if they are underdogs, lower-ranked teams can often beat elite teams in knockout competitions of all levels of the game, even in elite competitions like the Champions League and World Cup.

For example, Greece’s unexpected victory at Euro 2004 or Leicester City’s miraculous Premier League title win during the 2015-16 season are perfect examples that showcase how anything can happen anytime in football, making it the most unpredictable sport in the world.

One of the most unpredictable comeback games in recent times that is guaranteed to show a neutral fan, why soccer is so special, is Barcelona’s comeback vs PSG in the Champions League.

why is football called the beautiful game Image by Photo by Tembela Bohle

Passionate Fans

Football unites fans worldwide through their love for the game, creating a universal language that transcends borders and barriers, bringing communities together. Fans are also responsible for creating soccer chants for the team and often act as the 12th player.

It is often said that football is nothing without its fans, which is very true. Soccer fans can also help capture amazing live soccer moments which is why it is ideal to have a handy soccer camera, for recording other matches as well as your own so you can analyze it, if you are a more serious player.

why is football called the beautiful game

Image by Adrià Crehuet Cano

Real-world Lessons

Soccer is more than just a sport and many fans, players, and coaches even consider it life’s greatest teacher, because it can teach you many essential life skills, far more than just the basic skills of the game, that can be applied beyond the field.

  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Self-belief
  • Problem-Solving
  • Determination
  • Sportsmanship
  • Resilience
  • Creativity
  • Athleticism
  • Working under pressure

How to Learn More about the Game

There are many ways for players to learn more about the game and progress through the ranks such as by:

Frequently Asked Questions

Who popularized the term “the Beautiful Game”?

The term was popularized by Brazilian legend Pele, who admired the sport’s ability to captivate fans worldwide with its elegance and unpredictability.

What does “jogo bonito” mean in English?

The Portuguese phrase “Jogo bonito” translates to “beautiful game” in English and has become synonymous with Brazilian-style soccer. Watch this iconic “Jogo Bonito” commercial to get a better glimpse of what Jogo Bonito is all about.


Jogo Bonito Y nada Mas.

The beautiful game and nothing more.

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