The eyes of many around the world are focused on Brazil for the World Cup. Interest is high, even in the United States, where the sport is not one of the popular big four professional sports (American football, basketball, baseball, ice hockey.) But whenever people from the U.S. come together with the rest of the world to discuss “football,” we run into language problems.
First of all, what is this game called? In most of the world it is football. But that name is reserved in the U.S. for games of the NFL type, involving touchdowns and forward passes. So in the U.S., the game is known as soccer. (See this articlefor an interesting discussion of the debate on what to call the game.)
Then there is the question of how to refer to the competition and on what surface the game should be played. In most of the world, players engage in a match while playing on a pitch. In the U.S. players play a game on a field. For Americans, the word pitch is more closely associated with the initial throwing of the ball towards the batter in a baseball game.
Scoring is different as well. If the final score is 2–2 in British English it is a draw. While in American English it is a tie. If the score is 2–0, Americans would say two to nothing, or perhaps, two to zero; while the British would say two–nil.
In the U.S., the players’ footgear are cleats, which refers, in part, to the knobby bits on the bottom of the shoe that help prevent slipping. Elsewhere, these are known as boots, which to the U.S. mind brings up the idea of tall protective gear to keep your feet warm and dry in snow or rain.
The person who can use their hands to keep the ball out of the goal is a goalkeeper in most of the world, usually abbreviated as goalie in the U.S. Their ideal is not to let the other team score at all, a shutout in American parlance, called a clean sheet in other parts of the world.
Perhaps you’ve got some other variations in soccer/football terminology. If so, please share them in the comments below. Meanwhile, I hope that your team, or club, or side is successful!