Dutch Language Blog

Football In The Netherlands Posted by on Jun 26, 2018 in Culture, Dutch Vocabulary

I don’t know if you missed it, but there is a huge sportevenement (sports event) happening right now: The Wereldkampioenschap Voetbal (The Football World Cup) in Rusland (Russia). And while the Dutch elftal did not qualify, all Dutch eyes are on this Wereldkampioenschap. Who will win it? Learn here some vocabulary and how the Dutch follow this World Cup!

Voetbal in Nederland

Check out this video at YouTube.

Voetbal is one of the most popular sports of the Netherlands. And the Dutch men team used to be very good, with incredible results, such as the 1-5 win at the wereldkampioenschap in 2014. In fact, the Netherlands became third, and so is officially the third best team in the world! However, in recent years, the Dutch team has not done very well in kwalificatiewedstrijden (qualification matches). It was not part of the UEFA Europees Kampioenschap (EK) (European Championship) in 2016, nor did it qualify for the World Cup in Russia that is going on right now.

However, the Dutch still feverishly follow the wereldkampioenschap. All games are broadcast live on Dutch TV, with commentaar (commentary) and besprekingen (discussions) afterwards. You can watch it all live here, if your location allows it.

Elftal and other words

Dutch star player Arjen Robben at the EK 2012 (Image by Football ua at Commons.wikimedia.org under license CC BY SA 3.0)

What is a voetbalelftal? Literally, it is a “football eleven-count”, so eleven (elf) of something in football. Because a football team has eleven players, it is synonymous to “football team”. It is almost exclusively used with this sport (sport), and so it is almost always just simply shortened to elftal.

What about other terms?

Buitenspel – offside. Buitenspel literally means “outside game”. So in the buitenspelpositie staan (to stand in the offside position), means that you are standing somewhere where you are outside the game. And that reflects the rule pretty well – you cannot participate in the game in that position, if you get a ball played to you.

schop or trap is a “kick”, and these words are used in many football terms:

  • strafschop (penalty kick) (though the word “penalty” is also used a lot in Dutch);
  • vrije trap (free kick);
  • doeltrap (goal kick);
  • hoekschop (corner kick) (though the word “corner” is also used a lot in Dutch);
  • aftrap (kick off)…

There are other terms as well, of course:

  • inworp (throw-in);
  • schot (strike);
  • overtreding (foul);
  • zijlijn (sideline);
  • Het is een doelpunt! (It’s a goal!);
  • doel (goal);
  • gele kaart (yellow card);
  • rode kaart (red card);
  • paal (post);
  • bal (ball);
  • (voetbal)schoenen (cleats);
  • rennen (to run);
  • keeper (goal keeper);

Another interesting one is tackle, a word that the Dutch use in the same way as English speakers. This is also the case for the sliding tackle, or simply sliding.

A sliding (Image public domain at Commons.wikimedia.org)

Are you watching the World Cup? What do you think about this sport? What is a very popular sport in your country? And are there some striking (no pun intended) sports terms in your language? Let me know in the comments below!


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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.