Many Germans are keen on sport and the number of different sports played is as high as you would expect in a country with a large, relatively affluent population, many of whom live in large cities where sports facilities and opportunities to watch and play sport are well developed.

German Football Vocabulary

Of all the team sports enjoyed in Germany, soccer is by far the most popular. Many German teams and their players are well known by non-German soccer fans. German teams do well in the UEFA Europa League as well as in the World Cup, in which the German national team has won several times, most recently in 2014. In the 2018-2019 UEFA League rankings, German teams rank second, only pipped by Spanish teams, but ahead of England, Italy and France, all strong soccer nations.

English speaking soccer fans are very likely to accompany their teams to Germany or watch or attend soccer matches with German teams or Germany itself playing. It’s fun to learn some German soccer words if you get the chance. It means your appreciation of the game is going to be greater and you may even start up a conversation with German fans and impress them with the words you have gleaned. Too often it’s the other way around!

Here is a Selection of German Words and Phrases used in Soccer

By no means is it exhaustive and you probably need a specialised sports dictionary or phrase book to have any chance of learning a lot more.

Fußball – Football, or Soccer

Note that soccer is the better term in English to use, simply because English speaking nations have a number of team games in which the ball is kicked, like Rugby, of which there are two varieties, Gridiron, played in the U.S. and Aussie Rules, played only in Australia and P.N.G. In Australia, the word ‘footy’ could refer to either of the two Rugby games, Aussie Rules or soccer, but in Germany, Fußball is definitely king of them all!

Anstoß – Kick Off

Every game of soccer begins with an Anstoß, usually decided by a toss of a coin.

Zuschauer – Spectator

There will be plenty of these at any important match in Germany, when the stadium will be crowded or at least in Die Tribüne, the stands.

Spiel – this is the game, played by 11 players on each side. One player is designated to stay back at the Torpfosten, the goalposts. This is the Torwart, the goalkeeper. Of course, his (or her – women’s soccer is becoming popular everywhere, including Germany) his job is to stop den Ball – the ball, from entering the goal.

As with several other languages, some soccer words are pretty much the same as in English. That’s definitely the case for the Ball, which is the same in German as English. Germans call a team, Team, which can’t be more similar to the English! Then there is a pass, which is also the same in both languages. In soccer, of course, this is when the ball is kicked from one team member to another, hopefully not intercepted! Note that a pass in card games is quite different and in Netball, Basketball or Rugby, it will be passed by hand, not foot.

German is not so strikingly different to English that some soccer words cannot be recognised with a bit of help from the dictionary. If a spieler (player), does something which is potentially dangerous, he may be given a first warning, called in German Gelbe Karte, or yellow card. When the Schiedsrichter, the referee, gets really fed up with a player, then a Rote Karte, a red card, gets handed out and the player must leave the Spielfeld, the soccer pitch.

Then there are those compound words for which German is notorious (or famous) which when they apply to soccer are both hard to pronounce or remember. There is the Mannschaftskapitän, for example. That is the soccer team’s boss, the team captain.

So, by the time the whistle blows at the Spiel Ende, the end of the game, how many words will you have learned?