Does Soccer Need To Be Capitalized? – Grammar Guide

Have you ever sat through a soccer match, questioning the minor aspects?

For instance, should the word ‘soccer’ be capitalized when written down?

Rest assured, you’re not the only one with this question. It’s a query that tends to slip through the cracks.

Let’s examine the English language and its capitalization rules, and determine where ‘soccer’ fits into the equation.

We’ll review style guides and exceptions, providing you with an insightful analysis to resolve this linguistic dilemma once and for all.

In a hurry? Here’s a quick & short answer that’ll definitely help you out!

In general, the word “soccer” should not be capitalized as it is a common noun, not a proper noun. Capitalization is necessary when referring to specific event names, like the “FIFA World Cup,” but not when discussing the sport in general. This rule applies consistently in both British and American English, ensuring clarity and correctness in grammar.

The Basics of Capitalization in English

You’re beginning to understand the fundamentals of capitalization in English, which are key to properly writing about your preferred sport, soccer.

Common practice dictates that proper nouns – such as the names of individuals, locations, or organizations – should be capitalized. Hence, when writing about Lionel Messi or Manchester United, be sure to capitalize the ‘M’s!

However, regular nouns should remain in lower case unless they are at the beginning of a sentence. This implies that terms like ‘soccer’, ‘player’, or ‘goal’ typically do not require a capital letter.

The rules become a little more complex when it comes to titles and competitions. An event’s name, such as the World Cup, is capitalized; it’s a specific event, not a general term.

But if you’re saying someone is ‘playing in a world cup’, you can write it all in lower case, as it’s not referencing the specific tournament.

Common Nouns vs. Proper Nouns: Where Does Soccer Fit?

While distinguishing between common and proper nouns, the term ‘soccer’ sits in an interesting classification. Being a sport loved by millions across the globe, it’s usually referred to as a common noun.

This is because it refers to the general game, not a specific instance or version of it. Hence, when discussing a casual game with friends or watching a match on television, ‘soccer’ does not require capitalization.

Yet, there are instances where soccer can transform into a proper noun. This occurs when it’s part of a specific name, like Major League Soccer (MLS). Here, ‘Soccer’ becomes unique and identifiable, signifying the need for capitalization.

The guideline to remember is: when referring to soccer as the widely known sport, keep it in lowercase. But if it’s part of an official title or organization, capitalize it!

Grasping this distinction doesn’t only enhance your grammatical skills; it deepens your understanding of language intricacies within our adored sport.

Capitalization Rules in Different Style Guides

Different style guides offer unique rules on capitalization, potentially causing confusion for writers. You might question if you should capitalize the word ‘soccer’. The response hinges on the context.

In the realm of American English, sports like soccer typically aren’t capitalized unless they initiate a sentence or form a part of a proper noun. For instance, ‘I love playing soccer,’ but ‘I’m attending Soccer Camp this summer.’

Now, let’s examine different style guides. Both the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook and the Modern Language Association (MLA) Manual concur that sports names should remain lower case unless incorporated in a title. Hence, maintain ‘soccer’ in lower case during routine writing.

However, if you adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), the rules get a bit intricate. While CMS concurs with the non-capitalization of sports in general text, it does suggest that when referencing Major League Soccer (MLS), as an official league name, it should be capitalized.

The key takeaway is that context is paramount! Recognize your audience and select your style guide appropriately.

Exceptions to the Rule: When Soccer Should Be Capitalized

While there’s a common practice to keep sports names in lower case, there are situations where they must be capitalized. You might be curious: When should ‘soccer’ be capitalized? Let’s examine it.

In the English language, capitalize ‘Soccer’ when it begins a sentence or becomes part of a proper noun. For example, ‘Soccer World Cup 2022’.

Also, when you mention an official event or organization like FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), the first letter is capitalized.

Here’s a breakdown to make it clearer:

Beginning of SentenceSoccer is loved globally.Yes
Part of Proper NounSoccer World Cup 2022.Yes
Official Event/Organization NameFIFA Street Soccer.Yes
Middle of Sentence (not part of proper noun)He loves playing soccer.No
Casual Use/General Reference      They play soccer every Sunday.No

Grasping these rules will assist you in discussing soccer in a more professional and accurate manner!


The enchanting game of soccer, much like the art of language, is governed by complex rules.

There’s no necessity to always capitalize ‘soccer’; it’s not classified as a proper noun. However, style guides might deviate from this rule.

Just as a corner kick injects optimism into a nail-biting match, capitalizing ‘Soccer’ could place an emphasis on its significance within a certain context.

So, handle words with caution and skill, just as you would when managing the ball on the field!

Manuel Esposito

Hello everyone! My name is Manuel and I've recently got my PhD in Sport and Excercise Science at the University of Portsmouth. I'm raised and born in New York, and I've been a big fan of soccer my whole life. Soccer is the reason why I got my PhD in Sport and Excercise Science, and my goal with this blog is to help you improve your soccer techniques, strategies, and knowledge!

Press ESC to close