This is the first in a series of pieces on football vocabulary, phrases and idioms. This particular piece is aimed at learners and teachers of beginner level English. If there are any important words you think I’ve missed, please get in touch and I will happily update this piece. Please note that I am a British English speaker and so the use of the word ‘soccer’ and other Americanisms will not appear on this list 😉
football match: two teams playing against each other in a 90-minute game.
football pitch: the area where footballers play a match.
goalposts: markers used to determine where it would count as a goal.
penalty area: rectangular area marked out in front of each goal, outside of which the goalkeeper cannot handle the ball.
a draw: an even score at the conclusion of a game or match
an equaliser: a goal that brings the score of the game to be the same for both teams – creating a possible draw.
extra time: a further period of play added on to a game if the scores are equal, and a draw is not an option i.e. in the final match of a tournament.
half-time: the time at which half of a game is completed, especially when marked by an interval.
full-time: after the allocated time for a match has passed and the referee has blown the final whistle.
free kick: a kick at the ball given to the attacking team after a foul by a player on the other team
penalty shoot-out: a method of determining a winner in a match that would have otherwise tied or drawn. Thirty minutes extra time is usually played before it gets to this stage.
penalty kick: a free kick at the goal from the penalty spot (which only the goalkeeper is allowed to defend), given to the attacking team after a foul within the penalty area by a player on the other team.
goalkeeper, goalie: a player whose special role is to stop the ball from entering the goal. Only this player is allowed to touch the ball with his/her hands.
striker, attacker, forward: a player whose main job is to kick the ball into the goal area and score goal.
midfielder: a player who plays in the middle part of the pitch.
defender: a player whose job is to protect their own side’s goal, and stop the other team from scoring.
captain, skipper: the leader of a team.
substitute: a player available to replace another player during a match – a member of the squad.
team: the 11 players together playing for the same club or country in a match
squad: all of the players available for the club or country who can be chosen to play in the team.
manager: a person responsible for controlling a team and training new players.
referee: an official who watches a match closely to ensure the rules are adhered to, and to arbitrate on matters that may arise during a game.
linesman, assistant referee: an official who helps the referee from the sideline especially in deciding whether the ball is out of play or not, or if a player is offside.
foul: an unfair action that breaks the rules
sideline: the boundary line on each side of the field, within which, the ball must remain during a game.
goal, net: a pair of posts linked by a crossbar making a space into which the ball has to be sent in order to score.
a booking: a yellow card shown to a player for a serious foul. Two yellow cards result in a red card, which means the player gets sent off (unable to continue playing).
sending off/sent off: a red card is shown to a player, either for a second yellow card or a very serious foul. The player must leave the pitch and cannot continue playing. The team is not allowed a substitute for him/her.
injury time, stoppage time: added minutes by the referee, at the end of the playing time, to account for pauses for injury or other issues during the match.
score: the record of goals that shows who is winning. The final score shows who won.
offside: a position which is not allowed by the rules of the game – when a striker is closer to the other team’s goal area than the last defender, when the ball is passed to him/her.
goal: A successful attempt at scoring by getting the ball between the goalposts of the other team. Or the area between the goalposts and under the crossbar.
own goal: a goal scored accidentally by a player in his/her own team’s net/goal.
kick-off: the first kick of the game when two players from the same team in the centre circle play the ball and start the game.
to shoot: to kick the ball towards the net to try to score a goal.
a corner: a kick from the corner flag awarded to the attacking team when the ball has passed the by-line after last being touched by a player from the defending team.
a throw in: a throw is taken from the sideline after the ball has gone out of play. This is the only time a player can handle the ball without committing a foul.
a header: a shot that occurs when a player uses his head to move or pass the ball.
a hat-trick: when one player scores three goals in one game.
fans/supporters: – the people who watch and follow a team (or football in general)
hooligans: – people who call themselves football fans but act in a violent and often illegal way.
I will try to get another post up with some longer football phrases next…….