• Michael Marsden

Midfielder or centrist? Football vocabulary 1

Another World Cup-inspired exercise for non-native speakers and writers of English. Complete the 15 sentences below by choosing between the three options in each case. One option is correct, while the other two might cause momentary confusion in a football-themed conversation with a native speaker.

The answers are given at the end.


1. If players didn't have buds / studs / beads on the bottom of their boots, they would fall over much more often.

2. With six goals, Harry Kane of England is the top scorer / marker / archer so far in this World Cup.

3. The basic positions that a footballer can play are goalkeeper, defender, midfielder / half / centrist, or forward.

4. In most cases when a fault / offence / foul is committed by the defending team inside their penalty area, a penalty is awarded to the attacking team.

5. Apart from the goalkeepers, players are only permitted to touch the ball with their hands when taking a lateral / throw-in / side-ball.

6. 'Neymar had been persistently fouled by the Costa Rican defenders, but on that occasion he was tackled / robbed / intervened fairly.'

7. 'If it hadn't been for the goalkeeper's fantastic save / defence / prevent in the last minute, his team would have lost.'

8. When a player commits a foul anywhere outside their own team's penalty area, a free kick / free touch / free play is awarded to the other team.

9. After the first half of a football match, there is break-time / half-time / recovery-time, and then the second half.

10. A goal should be cancelled / erased / disallowed if the attacking team gained an unfair advantage by committing a foul or having a player in an offside position.

11. If the ball goes behind the goal and the last player to touch it was on the defending team, a corner / corner shot / corner play is awarded.

12. If a player pretends that they have been fouled in an attempt to fool the referee, it is often said that they are guilty of simulation / subterfuge / artifice (or, to use a less formal expression, 'play-acting').

13. A crossing / cross / cruise is when an attacking player is near the side of the pitch and hits a long pass towards a teammate in front of the defending team's goal.

14. The person who selects the team and decides what tactics they will employ (e.g. Tite for Brazil, or Gareth Southgate for England) is usually known as the coach or manager / director / principal.

15. Now that the initial group stage of the World Cup is over, every game in which there is no winner after 90 minutes goes to extra time / overtime / prolongation and then, if necessary, a penalty shoot-out.


Answers below...



So, how did you do?


1. If players didn't have studs on the bottom of their boots, they would fall over much more often.

2. With six goals, Harry Kane of England is the top scorer so far in this World Cup.

3. The basic positions that a footballer can play are goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, or forward.

4. In most cases when a foul is committed by the defending team inside their penalty area, a penalty is awarded to the attacking team.

5. Apart from the goalkeepers, players are only permitted to touch the ball with their hands when taking a throw-in.

6. 'Neymar had been persistently fouled by the Costa Rican defenders, but on that occasion he was tackled fairly.'

7. 'If it hadn't been for the goalkeeper's fantastic save in the last minute, his team would have lost.'

8. When a player commits a foul anywhere outside their own team's penalty area, a free kick is awarded to the other team.

9. After the first half of a football match, there is half-time and then the second half.

10. A goal should be disallowed if the attacking team gained an unfair advantage by committing a foul or having a player in an offside position.

11. If the ball goes behind the goal and the last player to touch it was on the defending team, a corner is awarded.

12. If a player pretends that they have been fouled in an attempt to fool the referee, it is often said that they are guilty of simulation (or, to use a less formal expression, 'play-acting').

13. A cross is when an attacking player is near the side of the pitch and hits a long pass towards a teammate in front of the defending team's goal.

14. The person who selects the team and decides what tactics they will employ (e.g. Tite for Brazil, or Gareth Southgate for England) is usually known as the coach or manager.

15. Now that the initial group stage of the World Cup is over, every game in which there is no winner after 90 minutes goes to extra time and then, if necessary, a penalty shoot-out.

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