I Love the Language of the Beautiful Game

Jun 28, 2010

As a normal American sports fan I find it tough to appreciate soccer outside of the amazing event that is the world cup. Following soccer can be pretty tough in the US when the normal outlets (espn, the newspapers) don't cover it in depth and most of your friends don't care that Arsenal and Chelsea are playing in the premiership (who?).

But every four years the world cup comes around and I find it wonderfully entertaining. Watching more of the matches at my house with announcing of the British Announcers on ESPN has introduced me to the colorful lingua franca of soccer:

  • A team is called a side. This makes some sense, as we choose sides here in sports in the US

  • A shot on goal is called a strike. I like strike better than a shot - it sounds much more menacing, which is what a goal is to the other team

  • The soccer field is called a pitch). I have no idea why this is so; perhaps its similar to the British calling a car trunk a "boot"

  • A player's cleats are called boots. Boots are great working man's shoes - I love it!

  • The goalie is called a keeper. I guess this both of these worlds are just short for goal keeper, so this makes sense

Thanks to Woody Chin I have some more great football terms translated for us yanks:

  • coach/manager is called a “gaffer

  • uniforms are called “kits” or “strips” (ed note: in the UK they seem to call any type of accessory/add-on "kit", right?)

  • scoring two goals (one player) is called “bagging a brace

  • socks are called “stockings

  • a players movements with a ball are called “off the ball” movements

I'm sure there are a ton of other words that sound foreign to me, but these are the ones I immediately pick up on. I also really enjoy the commentary, lines like "that was really a dreadfully played ball", or "that run was really uninspiring, wasn't it" are fantastic and we really need more of it in American sports!