11 German football terms you should know for the World Cup
Learn to speak like a Weltmeister! With the World Cup running from June 14-July 15, it's time to polish our football vocabulary — and Germans describe the sport in a creative way.
This word literally means "swallow," as in the bird, but don't be fooled by the innocent-sounding name. In soccer, a "Schwalbe" is a deliberate dive done by a player after he has either not been hit at all or only slightly touched by an opponent, seeking a penalty or free kick. Players who do this too often or too dramatically are known as a "Schwalbenkönig" — literally, "king of swallows."
This is the short form of "Schiedsrichter," which refers to one of the most important people at a soccer match: the referee. The team of refs is responsible for the game. They are the ones who decide whether a goal counts and which punishment a player deserves for a foul. Like "Schiri," many abbreviations in German are derived from the first letters of each syllable in a long word.
This is a tricky move known as a bicycle kick, or an overhead kick or scissors kick. The player throws his body backward up into the air and moves one leg in front of the other in the air in order to kick the ball backwards above head level, without resting on the ground. Its complexity and uncommon performance makes it one of football's most celebrated skills.
This is the German term for "offside." A player is "abseits" if he is in the opposing team's half of the field and is also nearer to his opponents' goal line than the ball, the defensive players from the opposing team. In case of abseits, the ref awards an indirect free kick to the other team. Impress your friends during the next abseits play with this important German word.
"Cross" would be an English term for "Flanke." This technique is a delivery from one flank or wing into the opponent's penalty area — usually lofted, although you can also cross a ball low. "Flanke" literally means "flank" or "side." The idea is to get the ball into the danger area in front of goal — and hopefully score shortly thereafter.
This is a dummy or a feint, when a footballer tries to fool his opponent into thinking he's going to pass or shoot, when his real aim is to get past the defender with the ball. A "Finte" can be a dummied pass or shot, or even a drop of the shoulder trying to send the opponent the wrong way.
This term literally means "emergency brake." In terms of football, this is the case when a player commits an intentional foul in order to prevent a goal by the opponent team. It's a risky strategy, though. If caught by the referee, the player is punished with a red card and often suspended from the following game too.
Every team cheers when they are awarded an "Elmeter," or penalty kick, because that's an easy opportunity to score. An "Elfmeter" can be decisive, especially in low-scoring games. It is awarded when a direct foul is committed within the penalty area. A penalty kick is taken from exactly 11 meters (36 feet) away from the goal, on the penalty spot.
Literally translated, this term would mean "sugary pass." On the pitch, it refers to a skilled pass that is particularly smooth, creative, or well weighted. Some passes are difficult for the receiver to control, a "sugar pass" sticks to their boot. But shouldn't all pros be delivering a "Zuckerpass" all the time?
When this word is screamed, which is usually is, it sounds more like "TORRR!" Tor, of course, means "goal," though it's otherwise used in German to mean "gate." A goal is scored when the ball crosses the goal line between the goal posts, even if a defending player last touched the ball before it crossed the goal line — in which case it would be an "Eigentor," or "own goal."
A "Goldenes Tor" is a German term to describe the only goal of a game, in those matches where just one player finds the net. This is not to be mistaken with the now-defunct golden goal rule, which has an entirely different meaning. This rule applied only to games that go to extra time — and decreed that the first goal scored in extra time ended the match. It was broadly dropped in 2004.