I've noticed a string of soccer related questions appearing on the site lately that I think have some issues. See, for example:

What does "get down" mean in football (soccer)?

What does "break up" mean in this sentence?

What does "release" mean in football (soccer)?

What does "look for" mean in football (soccer)?

There are ten other questions from the same user in a similar vein. None of them seems to meet the standard set in the following meta post, especially items #2 and #3:

Please, everyone... details. Please

At the same time, I'm hesitant to downvote or vote for closure, since it's possible other people are finding it useful to build up a list of definitions for soccer slang.

I don't think it's helping that none of the questions has an accepted answer, which makes it more difficult for someone using the site for research to decide if the answers being provided are correct.

What do people think about these posts?

  • I agree it might get a bit annoying, but that would be if the questions can be answered by a dictionary lookup. I don't think any extra action is necessary. Let the questions be judged on their own merit.
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 20:16
  • 1
    My concern is that the source is never cited. TV/radio/newspaper...??? Even in the case of idiomatic phrases (sports related or not), a broader context to understand the actions being described would be helpful.
    – user3169
    Commented Apr 7, 2018 at 21:42
  • Not debating whether the mentioned questions are on-topic/off-topic here, but Sports accepts terminology questions... if they're really sports-related
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 9:04

1 Answer 1


English sports' commentary often contains uses of words that are not obvious at first sight. They cannot be looked up in a dictionary necessarily. Many of them are not even "football" (soccer) terms.

They are taken from other parts of the language and used by commentators. If anyone here has every listened to Ray Hudson commenting on a game, they will understand what I mean. He often works Shakespeare or other literary references into his commentary. He is very "high-end". Then, there are very "low-end" commentators who use language that is at times incredibly colloquial.

Some of the metaphors are highly colorful and very hard to understand for an ELLer. That's why I was trying to answer them. Some of these questions cannot be looked up in a normal dictionary as a normal dictionary will not explain what it means when one player "looks for" another player, or the goal.

The example of look for is a good one. (click on the link in the question).

I have not examined every single post mentioned above, but, in general, my comment stands.

I completely agree that MORE DETAIL should be given, especially the nationality or name of the commentator: was he or she British or Irish or American or a Spanish-speaker who also comments in English? On BEIN sports, you get all four, and there may even be other nationalities.

Another good example from the OP's list is GET DOWN. To get down the field. That too is not to found in a dictionary. It probably means (I have not looked at the thing again as I type) to dribble the ball down the field towards one's own goal.

So, that's what I think: more detail re who is commenting, or what country they are from, and where the full-comment transcripts can be found.

I also agree that some verbs or phrases may be obvious and might be able to be be figured out by anyone who knows anything at all about football. In fact, after taking a look at release, it would seem that one player has taken the ball "off another player". I think the question was, in fact, legitimate.

This is a sticky area and I know that both ELU and ELL dislike stickiness. But, what the hey, language is a sticky business.

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