Other than maybe Australian cricket or something, no sport boasts a more colorful lexicon than soccer/football/fútbol/that thing your hipster son likes. So before the 2018 World Cup kicks off, we decided to help you brush up on your footy vocab so you can not only look the part while shouting out your lungs at the local Applebee’s for Belgium because you spent a semester there in 2008, but sound like it too. And remember when in doubt, just sound it out.
Group Stage - The stage of the tournament featuring groups. Come on, you got this.
Knockout Rounds - The single-elimination portion of the tournament. Perfect for fans of watching grown men cry on live TV.
FIFA - International soccer’s corrupt governing body run by a self-serving despot who sometimes fines countries whose fans throw bananas at opposing black players a few thousand bucks before retreating to his Swiss chalet to tally up his Grand Cayman bank accounts.
Boots - Cleats, which, last time we checked, are an exactly opposite piece piece of footwear.
Kit - Uniform, the exclusive domain of Nigeria.
VAR - “Video Assistant Referee”, AKA instant replay, but considerably shittier.
Simulation - An NBA flop with European flair. Occasionally worth a yellow card, depending on the referee, player’s reputation, and barometric pressure.
Cracker/Pearler/Thunderbolt/Wonder Goal/Worldie - A goal that makes you spill your beer all over your girlfriend’s friend’s boyfriend’s living room. On the brightside, you won't be invited back.
Golazo - See above, only in Spanglish.
Hooligans - Roving packs of militant die-hards who walk the streets looking for opposing skulls to kick, win, lose, or draw. Think Eagles fans crossed with The Warriors (the movie, not the famous NBA Instagram troupe).
Howler - A horrific mistake that will haunt you for the rest of your days, often committed by English goalies.
Gaffer - Very English term for “head coach”, likely influenced by the fact that every coach in England’s history has been a f—king gaffe.
Gutted - How you feel at the end of Beaches.
Park the Bus - The time-honored tactic of setting up your entire team to defend desperately for an hour and a half. See: Tunisia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Russia, Iceland, Costa Rica, and whatever team Jose Mourinho is managing in a mask.
Maradona - Legendary soccer guy, World Cup GOAT, and architect of the most infamous handball in human history. Also a flashy spin move that will get any player not named Neymar rage subbed immediately.
Brace - Two goals scored by one player in a match. Also the instant recipe for a $40 million transfer to a massive club where said player will rot on the bench until transferred back for half the price a year later.
Transfer - The act of a player switching club teams either through trade, cash buy-out, or free agency (only possible from June to August and for one month mid-season). Also the tournament within the tournament.
U.S. Men’s National Team - Losers who didn’t qualify
Azzurri - Even bigger losers who didn’t qualify
Team doctor Numbing spray bottle guy
Vuvuzela - A 50-cent plastic tube that you still hear when you lay down to sleep at night. Also precisely 27 now-defunct psych rock bands formed in the summer of 2010.
Purple Patch - Hot streak (and the name of Grimace’s sex tape BOOM)
Sacked - Fired, which is better than the more literal alternative.
Sitter - A goal it seems impossible to miss. Usually used when a player misses it.
Stick - Verbal abuse directed at a player...sometimes from opposing fans, but usually from his own.
Tiki-Taka - A dexterous style of play typified by quick, intricate passing sequences that also happens to be really fun to say like 20 straight times until your therapist finally asks what your trigger was this week.
On-Song - A team on top of their game, passing the ball around the opposition, scoring goals at will while their supporters burst into song. Occurs one in six games for Spain and one in six trillion for everyone else.
Wanker - Asshole.
FUN RUSSIAN TERMS!
Gorish - The Russian equivalent of “MAN ON!”, which roughly translates to “YOU’RE BURNING!”. Contrary to everything you know about fire safety, you should shout this in crowded places.
Pushka Strashnaya - Meaning “scary cannon”, “pushka strashnaya” describes a vicious shot from long range. Getcha Cold War bunkers ready, folks.
Sudyu Na Milo - A chant that threatens to turn unliked referees into soap, based on the old Soviet practice of rounding up stray dogs and turning them into exfoliating sandalwood body lather. Man, Russia is a dark, dark place.
Comrade - Paul Manafort