5 Football Phrases in English

Posted on July 6, 2018

By Emily Stallard, Owner at Orchid English


Have you been enjoying the football this summer? I’m not usually much of a football fan but I do like watching the World Cup. We’ve put together 5 football phrases in English to improve your conversations about football. The best thing? All of these phrases could also be used at work as business English idioms.


To be on the ball
Football English: To focus on the ball without getting distracted.
Business English: To keep yourself informed about what’s happening in your industry, your colleagues and competitors.
Usage: TV reporters need to be really on the ball because the stories could change at any time.


To move the goalposts
Football English: To change the rules to suit one team or player.
Business English: To change the rules to suit particular people, or an industry.
Usage: The sales target for the other team was 100 cars but we have to sell 150. That’s really moving the goalposts!


To score an own goal
Football English: To score a goal in your own team’s goal.
Business English: To do something that really damages yourself and benefits your competitors.
Usage: Why on earth did you recommend our competitor? That was an own goal.


To take sides (negative nuance)
Football English: Of a referee, for example, to treat one team better than the other.
Business English: To unfairly favour one colleague or department over another in a dispute.
Usage: Look, I don’t want to take sides. I can see that both of you have a fair point.


Take your eye off the ball
Football English: To look away at a crucial point when you should have been concentrating on the ball.
Business English: To get distracted and miss an important event.
Usage: The regulation totally changed and I didn’t notice! I mustn’t take my eye off the ball next time.


Which of these football phrases in English do you like the best? Do you have some interesting football idioms in your language?


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