mardi 8 mars 2011

An Introduction to French Football Terminology

In any language, discussion of football is characterised by cliché, hyperbole and a tacit agreement that the conventions of grammar - particularly regarding tense - do not apply. Football is indeed "a great leveler": a subject which can render the intelligent and the stupid equally inarticulate.

The growing rabble of former players splayed across sofas at Sky, the BBC and ITV seems set on perpetuating such inanity. Thankfully, French football broadcasting is more heterogeneous: the experts who appear on Canal Football Club and Téléfoot to dissect Ligue 1 include print journalists, managers, chairmen and - invariably - World Cup winners. Thus, France's most successful football programmes offer broader insights, which are exchanged without bias and in an atmosphere of polite discord.

This enlightenment rarely extends to the terraces. At Marseille's Stade Véoldrome, one expects to overhear statements as ludicrously myopic as those Sir Alex Ferguson might make if he deigned to talk at all. Marseille fans, however, do not have access to the same vast range of empty maxims about - for example - "playing between the lines" as their English-speaking counterparts.

My intention to write an article about football clichés in France has been thwarted. Good. Instead, I have decided to compile a dictionary of the charming, idiomatic phrases used to describe the skills, people and general paraphernalia of French football.

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