How to Speak Football: 21 Soccer Terms For the World Cup

The world cup is back once again, starting on June 12th, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  This means different things for different people, but it is the biggest sporting event in the world, and here’s your chance to learn to talk a little bit about soccer in English!

Today we have a special infographic from Kaplan International showing different soccer terminology, as well as historical players and moments that will tell you a little bit about the rich history of the world cup. Using old-school (classic) video game graphics (8 bit), this image illustrates important soccer terminology in different languages.

Are you able to recognize the players and specific moments? Our friends at Kaplan International have also published explanations of the players and the moments, but also football vocabulary in different languages! We highly recommend you check it out!

kaplan football

These amazing illustrations come from Kaplan. They will really help you to remember each expression. If you love this and it helps you improve your English, then check out their site!

21 Terms for the World Cup

  • Goalkeeper/goalie: The player in a football/soccer game who guards the goal so the ball doesn’t enter
  • Defender: The player or players who play in front of the goalkeeper and assist the goalkeeper in guarding/defending the goal.
  • Midfielder: The players on the team who connect offense and defense, and both attack and defend.
  • Striker: The primary offensive player who plays in the front and center whose primary job is to score goals (also known as center forward and attacker)
  • Captain: The leadership title/role given to a player based upon some combination of experience, skill, and strategy.
  • Coach: Person (who is not a player) who is in charge of training the an athlete or a team.
  • Referee (Ref): The person (on the field), not belonging to either team, who makes sure both teams and the players follow the rules. The referee’s decision or judgment is generally absolute.
  • Corner Flag: A post that marks each corner on the soccer field. It has a colored flag around 5 feet high.
  • Dive: When the player falls intentionally in an attempt to convince the referee to give him a free kick.
  • Goal: A goal is scored when the ball crosses the goal line (past the goalkeeper).
  • Hand Ball: When the ball touches a player’s hand, generally resulting in a foul and penalty of some kind.
  • Foul: When a referee determines that player violated a rule.
  • Free Kick: An unobstructed kick of a stationary ball rewarded to a player as consequence of a foul or penalty on the opposing team.
  • Red Card: The small card held up by the referee when he kicks a player out (asks him to leave for violating some rule)
  • Penalty Shootout: A method of ending a game that has ended a tie (drawn match).
  • Wall: A line of players organized by a team to stand next to each other to block a penalty kick.
  • Counter Attack: A tactic used when responding to an attack.
  • Trophy:  Cup or small statue a team or individual receives as a symbol of a victory
  • Score: “To score a goal” (verb) is to put the ball in the other team’s goal (past the goalkeeper). Score (noun) is also the accumulated points by each team: “What’s the score?” “The score is 2 to 1.” 
  • Whistle: The sharp sound the referee makes when the game is started, when it is stopped, and when it ends. Whistle is also a verb.
  • Tie (Draw): When two teams finish a game with the same score, or even.
  • José Ignacio says:

    I would add the overtime. And is a wall allowed to block a penalty kick?