Whatever next? UEFA brings out football dictionary

April 22, 2008

When should he raise this?

Bizarre as it sounds, UEFA announced last week it was publishing a dictionary.

Teaming up with German reference book publishers Langenscheidt, European soccer’s governing body has produced a dictionary with around 2,000 “official” football terms, handily translated into English, French and German.

You can’t help but imagine some wonderful uses for this important academic work.

Today’s jet-set millionaire coaches will surely grab a copy as they seek to make their multi-national squads understand the latest training ground routine. England coach Fabio Capello and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will meanwhile be delighted to know that Italian and Russian editions are planned should the first edition prove a success.

Cynicism aside, however, a quick flick through the pages suggests the dictionary might not be such a daft idea. UEFA acknowledge the book is aimed primarily at the sport’s administrators with entries covering areas such as security and stadium terminology, descriptions of sporting equipment, medical terms and phrases commonly used in sports management.

But there is plenty of material that regular fans might want to take a look at. UEFA’s head of languages suggested to me that long-suffering wives of football fans might want to sneakily purchase a copy if they want to impress their husbands during Euro 2008. I reckon some of the entries might justify those husbands taking a furtive look themselves though, particularly those armchair experts who like to claim a greater knowledge of the sport’s intricacies than they truly possess.

There are official answers for those who don’t want to admit that they still don’t understand the new offside rule, or when a free kick should be direct or indirect. Some concise definitions of tactical formations are also useful for fans who might know what a 4-2-3-1 looks like but not when it should be used.

According to the dictionary, 4-2-3-1 is a “relatively defensive formation using a back four, two holding midfielders to screen the defence but also to initiate attacks, three attacking midfielders and one forward”. A 5-3-2 on the other hand is a “defensive system of play… which is heavily reliant on two wing backs occasionally providing width for the team when attacking.”

Overall I would say it is not a bad addition to a football fan’s bookshelf, although UEFA seems to be scraping the barrel for material at times.

If a second edition is ever published UEFA might want to ask if we really need definitions for ‘kicking with the outside of the foot’ (which amazingly means “striking the ball with the edge of the foot”) or ‘replacement of a defective ball’ (“exchange of a ball that bursts or is no longer suitable for play during the course of the match”).

Mark Ledsom, Berne

PHOTO: A Euro 2008 assistant referee attends a workshop near Zurich in preparation for the upcoming tournament, April 17 REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

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