The Language of Football


Richard Furlong

Communication profile: Antonio Conte

How the Chelsea boss gets his message across.

Why European football needs English, but not The English

Talking Brexit and football’s second language.


Putting all the meat on the barbecue, and bothering the owls.


A magnificent language of football, featuring parsons, little owls and a mistrust of tiki-taka.


Featuring fairplay, foreplay and the importance of precision.


An ancient yet ever-developing language, and a buttery, crotch-obsessed vocabulary.


How football mirrors language in Germany, starting with solidity and ending all inventive.


How the Welsh language of football lives and grows, featuring scythes, bards and Sgorio.


Butter passes, gender roles and the pitfalls of using English.


Inventing tiki-taka, shaming the Germans and confusing politicians.


A rich and varied language, featuring self-deprecation, dyed foxes and fish.


Defining national identity, going for kebabs and what not to call Mario Mandžukić.


On fur coats, butterflies and the power of internet


Irish Gaelic, an excellent take on the English language, and the roots of the craic.


What they call the Czechs, where the biggest drinkers are, and what it means to “receive your boots”.


Filthy chants, soapy refs and other stories.


How the people of the eagle bring together languages and dialects from across the world.


A huge footballing nation, with a language to match.

Czech Republic

Featuring naming issues, short beaks and sleigh rides.


A vibrant, in-your-face football language, featuring bees, donkeys and astronauts.


Getting by in Ukrainian, Russian and a mixed-grain version of the two.

European football’s top 5 words for a nutmeg

5 ways to describe football’s most humiliating move.


How the Swiss manage a multilingual, multi-kulti dressing room.

Diego Simeone and the language of motivation

He doesn’t just push his players, he stretches at their limits until they twang. But what really stands out about Diego Simeone is his ability to keep that going over such a long period of time. There has been many… Continue Reading →

4 signature moves in European football (featuring Papin, Cruyff, Zlatan)

Saluting the players who have had the honour of seeing their name become a footballing thing.

Naming and claiming the Panenka in Italy

How Panenka’s signature move arrived in Italy, and ended up with a whole new name.

On Bristol Rovers, Boca Juniors and the power of reappropriation

Language is power, and by reclaiming insults and abuse fans can take control of that power. Featuring vultures, pigs and whole heap of horse poo.

Language of a moment: Zidane 2006

As a change of pace, we wrote a piece for In Bed with Maradona. It looks at how the French media came to terms with Zidane’s headbutt in 2006, and the language they used to do so.

How different languages view football’s number 10

From the hook, to the holy, to the half-hearted, how the AMC is described around the world.

Beyond Gegenpressing: the language of tactical innovation in German football

Looking at tactical developments in German football, and the complex, resourceful language that gave them form.

Interview with Marc Joss: football translator and interpreter (part 2)

In part two, we talk to Marc about his interpreting work with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham.

Interview with Marc Joss: football translator and interpreter (part 1)

In the first of a two-parter, we chat with football translator and interpreter Marc Joss about the translation side of his work.

Cliché Corner: ‘to gift’

It’s only football that uses it like this (we think).

Terminology: Footix

One cockerel’s journey from mascot to insult.

Terminology: Mascot

The unsettling origins of what is, let’s be honest, an unsettling phenomenon.

Cliché Corner: Very Much So, Clive

In which we take a linguistic look at why Andy Townsend is bad at his job, and celebrate the ‘less is more’ approach to football commentary.

Terminology: Minnow

Looking at the fishy particulars of the word ‘minnow’, and enjoying the Greatest Cup Comeback in History.

The Bad Language of Football, starring Zlatan Ibrahimović

Exploring Zlatan’s foul, multilingual mouth, via the psychology of swearing and Roy Keane’s disregard for basic biology.

Terminology: Calcio

Violent noblemen in fancy costumes fighting over a cow? That’s right, it’s the birth of Italian football.

Terminology: Hooligan

Exploring the etymology of the hooligan, taking in music hall, the fighting Irish and a spectacular brain-turd from the Thatcher era.

Swede FA: Feminism and the Language of Football

A teenager takes on the Swedish FA and succeeds in making the rulebook gender neutral. Will FIFA follow suit?

Terminology: Soccer

A contentious word among English football fans, but it turns out we’ve only ourselves to blame…

Cliché Corner: Van Gaal’s Other Biscuit

In which the Manchester United manager and Josh Homme-a-like compares Chelsea to a biscuit, and we have a jolly good look at why.

Euro 2016 Profiles: Slovenia

Slovenia are a fascinating bunch, absorbing Romance, Germanic, and Finno Urgic influences into a glorious Slavic whole. Find out why Slovene is so romantic, how to cuss the referee and who exactly the Frog People are.

Terminology: Rabona

A journey down the origins of the ‘rabona’, from playing hooky, to tailless animals and military prostitutes.

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