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8 Russian Football Words for the World Cup Posted by on Jul 11, 2018 in News, vocabulary

Now that Russia is out of the running at the World Cup and the tournament is nearing its end, and I’m sure football—or soccer for our US readers—is on many people’s minds. Sasha recently shared his experience at the World Cup. Here are eight words that will helps you talk about the game.

two men playing soccer

Image via Pixabay

1. Чемпиона́т ми́ра

This is how you say “World Cup”—literally, “world championship.” Чемпио́н is a champion in the sports sense.

Коро́ль Бе́льгии и президе́нт Фра́нции прие́хали на матч чемпиона́та ми́ра (The Belgian king and the French president came to the World Cup match).

2. Тайм

This is obviously a loan word from the English “time” and is used to refer to a half of the soccer match, as in пе́рвый тайм (the first half) or второ́й тайм (the second half).

Пе́рвый тайм игры́ ме́жду сбо́рными Росси́и и Еги́пта заверши́лся счётом 0:0 (The first half of the game between the national teams of Russia and Egypt ended with a score of 0:0).


3. Мяч

Mяч is the word for a ball in sports. A ball as in any spherical object is шар.

Мяч с фина́льной игры́ бу́дет пе́редан в Госуда́рственный истори́ческий музе́й (The ball from the final game will be given to the State Historical Museum).


soccer ball

Image via Pixabay

4. Заби́ть (мяч/гол)

You may know the word бить, to hit or to beat. A related word is заби́ть (imperfective забива́ть), which means to score in the soccer context. This word is used in such expressions as забить мяч or заби́ть гол, both meaning to score a goal.

Кейн заби́л 6 голо́в в 3 ма́тчах ЧМ-2018 (Kane scored six goals in three games at the 2018 World Cup).


5. Воро́та

Perhaps confusingly, the Russian word гол only refers to the goal you score but not to the physical goal where you score the goal. The latter structure is called воро́та (plural noun, the same one you use for a gate).

Мяч от руки́ полузащи́тника отлете́л в воро́та дезориенти́рованного А́лиссона! (The ball bounced off the halfback’s arm into the disoriented Allison’s goal!)


6. Напада́ющий

Напада́ть is to attack, so the present participle напада́ющий refers to a forward.

Напада́ющий сбо́рной А́нглии мо́жет не сыгра́ть со Шве́цией (The English team’s forward may miss the game against Sweden).


young child playing soccer

Image via Pixabay

7. Защи́тник

Защища́ть is to protect, so, as you guessed, защи́тник is a defender. Полузащи́тник is a midfielder.

Защи́тник «Зени́та» и сбо́рной Росси́и Ю́рий Жирко́в заверши́л карье́ру в национа́льной кома́нде (The Zenit and Russian team defender Yuri Zhirkov has ended his career in the national team).


8. Врата́рь

Врата́рь is related to the word воро́та and means a goalkeeper.

На чемпиона́те ми́ра 2018 го́да врата́рь при́нял уча́стие в трёх ма́тчах и пропусти́л пять мяче́й (At the 2018 World Cup, the goalie took part in three matches and missed five balls).


Note that sometimes field positions are referred to by their English names, so you can probably guess what фо́рвард or голки́пер means.

Have you read or heard any coverage of the World Cup in Russian? What would you add to this list?

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available on her translation site and on Twitter at @intorussian.