Football, football, football: the whole world is going crazy for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar!

The beautiful game is also the most popular sport in the world and is played everywhere, from streets to stadiums. People love the game because it’s fast, easy to learn, and lots of fun to play. Even better, people don’t need lots of expensive equipment – all you really need is a ball and two goalposts.

Modern rules were invented in Cambridge, England in 1848 (though they have changed a lot since then) and the sport soon became popular all over the world.

The World Cup is a fantastic celebration that brings people from many different nations together. There’s excitement everywhere – in schools, offices, pubs and even on the street.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for you to practice speaking English with people everywhere. So, if you want to talk about football and the World Cup with your English-speaking friends and colleagues, you’ll need to know some important football vocabulary.

Oxford House’s World Cup Dictionary


Football Nouns

Fans: the people who support a team.

Pitch: the grass where a football game is played.

Goalposts: There is a net at each end of the football pitch. The objective is to make the ball go into the net.

Centre circle: the circle in the middle of the pitch where the game starts.

The penalty area: the box around the goal.

Corner flag: the corner areas of the pitch.

The referee: the person who makes sure the players don’t break the rules.

Assistant referees: the people who help the referee make decisions.

VAR: The Video Assistant Referee is the technology used during the World Cup to help referees when they are unsure.

The stadium: The place a football game is place.

The stands: The area where the fans sit.


Football Verbs

To win the toss: At the beginning of the match, the referee flips a coin. The team captain who guesses the result starts the game.

To kick off: To begin the game.

To score (a goal): A player scores when he or she gets a goal.

To concede: When you let another team score a goal.

To shoot: To kick the ball at the goal and try to score.

To pass (the ball): To kick the ball to another player.

To dribble (the ball): To run with the ball.

To cross (the ball): To kick the ball across the field to another player.

To take a corner: To kick the ball from the corner flag after it has gone out of play.

To commit a foul: To break the rules (touching the ball with your hands, kicking a player from the other team, etc).

To take a freekick: When a player fouls the referee allows the other team to kick the ball from the same spot.

To take a penalty: When a player commits a foul in the penalty area the other team can try to score a goal from the penalty spot.

To be sent off: When a player commits a bad foul they are shown a red card and are not allowed to play anymore.

To get booked: When a player commits a foul they are shown a yellow card. If they are given two yellow cards they are sent off.

To dive: When a player falls on the floor and pretends another player has fouled them.

World Cup Vocabulary: Let’s Talk About Football | Oxford House Barcelona

The Players

The most important people in any football game are the players. Each one has a special responsibility on the football pitch (the grass where the game is played). Let’s look at who they are:

Defenders: The defenders play in front of their own goal and try to stop the other team from scoring.

Goalkeeper: The goalkeeper uses his/her hands, feet, body and head to stop the opposition from scoring goals.

Central defender: The defenders who play in the middle of the pitch.

Left back / Right back: These defenders protect the goal from attackers running up the sides of the pitch.

Left/Right wing-back: These defenders also run fast and act as attacking players during a counterattack.

Midfielders: These players work in the centre of the pitch and keep the game moving. Sometimes they work to defend the goal, sometimes they create chances to score goals.

Wingers: These players play on the left and right of the pitch and run very fast to cross the ball and create goals.

Attacking midfielders: These players run into the opposition’s side in order to create chances.

Forwards / strikers: These players like to score goals, they play at the front of the pitch.


The Results

To draw: When neither team wins the match (e.g. 2-2, 1-1).

A penalty shootout: When the game is decided by a series of penalties.

0-0: Zero is described as “nil”, so a “0-0 draw” is a “nil-nil” draw and 1-0 is a “one-nil win”.

Hat trick: A hat trick is when a player gets 3 goals in one match.

To beat: To score more goals than the opposition.

To thrash: To score LOTS more goals than the opposition!

To get a whipping: To be beaten badly by the opposition.


Who are you supporting?

Whoever you are supporting this World Cup, we hope you enjoy the games, sing along with the fans, and make lots of friends along the way. It’s time to celebrate and support our favourite players – and you never know, maybe your team will be lifting the golden cup on December 18th!

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