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How to Watch Football Like a German Posted by on Jun 30, 2014 in Culture, Current Events, Language, Television, Traditions

Tonight we’ll see the tense football match between Germany and Algeria. It’ll be the first time these teams have played one another since the controversy of the 1982 World Cup, which was claimed to have been “fixed” so that Germany and Austria would go through to the next round at Algeria’s expense (Click here to read more!).

WM 2010 (Fundstück)

Photo by v230gh on Flickr.com is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

With all of the politics behind it, there’s no doubt that it’s going to be a good game. So I thought I’d do a little football post for everyone who wants to cheer for Germany tonight (or maybe I’m only doing it to wind up my Algerian husband)!

Please take it as a bit of light-hearted, topical language learning. 🙂


Schießen – The verb meaning “to shoot”
Das Tor – The goal
Ein Tor schießen – To score a goal

Der Fußball – Football (both the game and the ball itself)

Die Mannschaft – Football team

Das Foul – Foul

Das Eigentor – Own goal

Die Weltmeisterschaft – The World Cup!



Die Ampelkarte: A ‘traffic light’ card. This refers to a second yellow card, followed by a red one.

Das Traumtor: This translates to “dream goal” and refers to those perfect goals that couldn’t have gone any better.

Der Hexenkessel – Literally translated to “witch’s cauldron”, this interesting word refers to an unfriendly stadium atmosphere – usually the opponent’s home stadium

Der Elfmeter – Penalty kick. Literally translates to “eleven meter” – the distance from which you take a penalty kick. Don’t you love how literal German is?



Wenn das Leder im Kasten klingelt – Literally “when the leather jingles in the box” meaning “when the football jingles in the goal” – scoring a goal!

Den Ball im Tor versenken – Literally “to sink the ball into the goal” – to score a goal

Schlachtgesänge – Football songs. Literally translates to “battle chants”! One example is “Steh auf, wenn du ein Deutscher bist” (“Stand up if you’re a German/supporting Germany”) sung to the tune of “Go west” by Pet Shop Boys. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find that song on YouTube. But if the following video is anything to go by, German football fans seem to prefer chants, rather than entire songs. They also seem to like jumping an awful lot…



Ran an die Pille! – Go for the ball!

Tor! Tor! – Goal! Goal!

Auf geht’s, Deutschland,schießt ein Tor! – Come on, Germany, score a goal!

Der Schiedsrichter braucht einen Blindenstock! – The referee needs a white cane! (insulting the referee; calling him blind)

Schiri!!!!!! – The referee. Short for “Schiedsrichter” (or “Schiedsrichterin”, the female equivalent). You can shout this at the TV whenever the referee blows their whistle for an unfair reason!

Das war kein Abseits!!! – That was not offside!! This little phrase is impressive to show you know your offside rule – and in German, at that!

Komm schon, mein Sohn!!! – OK, I made this one up myself, as a literal translation of the English football expression “Go on, my son!” It doesn’t sound quite as aggressive in German as it does in English. But you could still say it.

That concludes my list of German football vocabulary. To all of you who are watching the game tonight in support of Germany, I hope you now feel confident enough to cheer on the team like a native. But whoever you’re supporting, remember: Es ist nur ein Spiel! (It is only a game!)

Viel Spaß!

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About the Author:Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze. I'm half English and half German. I write here because I'm passionate about my languages and my roots. I also work as a translator & group fitness instructor.


  1. Jörg:

    As a real German I have to critisize something:
    It’s “Das Eigentor” und “Das Traumtor”.

    Also something to add:
    “Die Arschkarte”, like “ass card”. It’s the red card, because years ago in times of black and white TV the refferee took the yellow card out of his breast pocket and the red card from his back pocket, so you could tell wich card he used.

    Best regards


  2. salma:

    Nice to read this article. I am chadian and leave in chad but I regulary support the German football team because of they way to play and because Germany is form me also my country.I learned too many thinks in germany. Today I work at graphic designer and this is a result of one of the culture that I inharitade from this beautiful and lovely country.

  3. Carsten:

    There are some important words missing…
    “Schwalbe!” A wellknown bird wich is flying at very high Speed with some elegance. If a Player uses to fall to the ground without being really attacked just for getting a Penalty
    “Schwalbenkönig” the king of the mentioned birds – a plyer who does that quite often
    “Blutgrätsche” a very rough word for a brutal foul – cheerd when the fans think, some more fighting could be usefull
    “Notbremse” if the attacking Player is brought to the ground directly before he surely would have shot a Goal ist called “Notbremse”. Usually followed by a “rote Karte”

  4. Rolando Scarlata:

    Hey! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

    • Constanze:

      @Rolando Scarlata Thank you so much for your comment! Hope your roommate likes it! 🙂

  5. Marco:

    Wo bleibt denn das eins zu null ??? Where is the one nil!????
    Ein Spiel dauert 90 Minuten. The game lasts ninety minutes.
    Vor dem Spiel ist auf dem Platz! Before the game is on the pitch. Meaning: Words prior mean little!
    Das Runde muss ins Eckige! The round must go into the boxy! Meaning: Score a goal
    Schluss ist wenn der Schiri pfeift! The game ends when the ref blows the whistle.
    Auf Wiedersehen! Good Bye!!!

    • Constanze:

      @Marco Thanks for the extra phrases, Marco! 🙂 🙂

  6. martyn jhon:

    Großen Beitrag!
    Vielen Dank für diese Informationen