A few weeks ago Paul Mirengoff at PowerLine asked the question, “What’s the Difference between American Football and English [Soccer]? Paul concluded that language was the difference. The English fans were much more vile:
[T]he Everton fanatics in the Gwladys Street End were cursing at their team within 15 minutes after the opening whistle. When Everton fell behind, it got truly nasty.
We’re not convinced. We went to a 49er’s game and heard a female fan screaming vitriol at the top for at least the first half. Of course, she was screaming at Tom Brady rather than the home team. The obvious difference is that the English fans chant or sing while the most complicated thing the American fans do is Dee-Fence. The only chant we remember from our visit to Arsenal was, “The ref’s a wanker,” but we remember that some of the chants were much longer. And there are the songs. We have been to a Liverpool game and it will not start until the fans have finished You’ll Never Walk Alone. If you see a red shirt with YNWA it is a Liverpool fan.
Double Sidebar: First, we always thought it was written by Gerry and the Pacemakers until we checked on Wikipedia. Second, we wonder what happens when Liverpool plays Borussia Dortmund? Do they both sing it? Wikipedia (scowl down) tells us that many soccer teams have adopted YNWA. End Double Sidebar.
So chants and songs are one difference between football and English soccer. Another difference is the possible accomplishments. In American sports, and football in particular, everything is about the Super Bowl. Did you make the playoffs and how did you do in them? In soccer you can win the league but there are no playoffs. It is rare that the league race goes down to the last week of the season. Typically, the relegation race (who gets sent to a lower league) goes longer than the race to win the Premiership.
There are several other prizes besides the the league including the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup, and the Champions League or Europa League (you can only be in one of those two). So it is possible to win four different championships. The Carabao Cup is for Premiership teams only and the least prestigious of the four. The top four Premiership teams compete in the Champions League against other European teams while the Europa League is a similar competition for a few less accomplished teams. The Champions League final is the biggest game in club soccer so it is probably a bigger accomplishment than the Premiership title.
We want you to be interested in the FA Cup. It is an English (actually England and Wales) competition for all comers. The Premiership teams get a bye for the the first two rounds but otherwise it is unseeded. So in the third round when there are 32 teams Paul’s Everton was unlucky to play the best team on the planet, fellow Premiership Liverpool. Everton is out.
Sidebar Two: One other strange thing is that ties lead to replays at the visitor place. So Wolverhamton hosted Manchester United on January 4 and tied zero-zero. They will play again on January 14 in Manchester to settle things. End Sidebar Two.
It is exciting because it is a playoff format- win or go home. It is exciting because there are big upsets, often because a big team will name a weaker starting line-up versus lesser competition. An upset or a lucky draw can help a weaker team go far in the FA Cup competition. In 2013, Wigan Athletic won the FA Cup but was relegated from the Premiership. Watch the FA Cup. It is one of the big differences between American football and English soccer.