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Talking About Football



Unless you live under a rock you probably know that the FIFA Men’s World Cup is coming soon. Is your football vocabulary fit for this? Or should we say soccer vocabulary? Here are some words you will find useful when you want to discuss Germany’s favorite sport.

First of all, what do we call this sport? If you are talking to somebody from Great Britain, just call it football. But if you say football to an American, they will probably think of the sport where players throw a ball shaped like an egg. In America, football is called soccer.

A football/soccer game lasts 90 minutes, from the starting whistle and kick-off, all the way to the final whistle. It is divided into two halves, each half being 45 minutes. The halftime break usually lasts 15 minutes. If there are a lot of interruptions in a game, for example injuries, player changes, goal celebrations, then a few minutes are added to the end of the game. We call this stoppage time or injury time.

If a game needs a winner, for example in the knock-out stage of a tournament like the World Cup, the game can go into extra time or be decided in a shootout. A game with no winner is called a draw.

When a player breaks the rules, this is called a foul. The referee, or ref, stops the game and decides what happens next. A foul can result in a free kick or a penalty kick (for a foul inside the penalty area), and a yellow card or even a red card against the offending player. When the ball crosses the sidelines this results in a throw in, when it crosses the goal line (outside the goal, of course!) this results in a corner kick or a goal kick, always depending on which team touched the ball last before it went out. When one team manages to kick the ball past the goalkeeper, or goalie, and into the net this is called scoring a goal. What’s the score? (Wie steht’s?) One-nil to Russia (Eins-Null für Russland.)

With the World Cup approaching, take the time to talk to your foreign friends and colleagues about football. Ask them if they will be watching, and if their national team has not qualified for the World Cup, ask then: “So, what team do you support?”