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Your essential World Cup 2018 vocab guide

Your essential World Cup 2018 vocab guide

For the first time in 28 years, England have reached the World Cup semi-finals – and for English people this is a huge event.

It means that in homes, offices, pubs and just about everywhere else up and down the country, people are talking about football more than ever.

To help you understand football commentary in English, and to chat about the nation’s favourite sport like a native, we have compiled your essential World Cup 2018 vocab guide:


Players. The people playing the game.

Referee. The person who ensures players don’t break the rules.

Assistant referee. The people who help the referee make decisions.

Attacker. A player who tries to score goals.

Forward/Striker. A player who plays at the front of the pitch and is most likely to score goals.

Defender. A player who tries to stop the other team from scoring goals.

Midfielder. A player who usually stays in the middle of the field.

Goalkeeper/Goalie. The player who stands in the goal and tries to stop the ball entering it.

Fans. The people who support a team.


Stadium. The building the game takes place in.

Pitch. The grassy area where the game is played.

Stands. The area where the fans sit.

Header. When a player uses his head to hit the ball.

Foul. A violation of the rules.

Yellow card. Shown by the referee for minor fouls. When a player gets two yellow cards he is sent off.

Red card. Shown by the referee for serious fouls. When a player is shown a red card he is sent off.


To dribble. To run up the field with the ball, moving it along with different parts of the foot.

To tackle: To attempt to take the ball away from another player, only using your feet.

To pass. To use your feet to send the ball to a team mate.

To shoot. To try to get a goal.

To score. To get a goal.

To concede. To let the other team get a goal.

To get booked. To commit a foul and be shown a yellow card.

To be sent off. To commit a bad foul, be shown a red card and have to stop playing.

To dive. To fall on the floor and pretend another player has fouled you.


Kick off. The way the game is started, and restarted after play has paused.

Corner kick. A kick from the corner flag after the ball has gone out of bounds.

Free kick. After a foul, the other team is allowed to kick the ball from the same spot.

Penalty  kick. If a foul occurs in the penalty area, the other team can try to kick into the goal.

Offside. When an offensive player passes a ball when there are no defensive players between the person passing the ball, the offensive player, and the goal.


In the UK the game is called football, in the US it is called soccer. If you’re cheering for England in the World Cup, you’re definitely watching football!

If you’re inspired to Learn English in the UK, many language schools offer football as an optional activity. Or, for a true taste of professional football, young learners can combine English and football studies with City Football Language School, operated by Manchester City Football Club in partnership with  British Study Centres in Manchester.

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