Football in Chinese (149 Words & Phrases to Supercharge Your Mandarin Football Vocabulary)
Looking for Chinese football vocabulary? You’ve come to the right place!
As the world’s most popular sport, football (or soccer to you, north American readers) can be a great way to start a conversation with Chinese people and put your Mandarin skills to the test.
With this post, we’ve got you covered to be able to keep up with all the go-to vocab and expressions you’ll need when watching or talking about football in Chinese. We’ve also put together twenty-five handy example sentences you can reference to build fun conversations around football with your Mandarin-speaking friends.
Let’s dig in!
General Football Vocabulary in Chinese
Let’s start with the most essential words related to football in Chinese. We’ve included Pinyin Romanization alongside the Chinese characters to help you pronounce the words.
|play football||踢足球||tī zúqiú|
|football training||足球训练||zúqiú xùnliàn|
|football game/match||足球比赛||zúqiú bǐsài|
|football team||足球队||zúqiú duì|
|football club||足球俱乐部||zúqiú jùlèbù|
|national team||国家队||guójiā duì|
|World Cup||世界杯||shìjiè bēi|
Now we’ll delve deeper into these basic Chinese football terms to help you get started on the road to footballing fluency.
1. Football (Soccer) in Chinese: 足球 (zúqiú)
The Chinese word for football, as a term for the sport, is 足球 (zúqiú). If you break it into characters, 足 (zú) stands for “foot”, and 球 (qiú) means “ball”. This same word may also be used in reference to the ball itself.
To refer to American football, you may say 美式足球 (měishì zúqiú) – “American-style football”. But a more common way of saying it is 橄榄球 (gǎnlǎnqiú), literally “olive ball”. (The ball does look like an olive, doesn’t it?)
2. Play Football in Chinese: 踢足球 (tī zúqiú)
“Play football” in Chinese is 踢足球 (tī zúqiú), literally “kick football”.
You’ll want to use the verb “kick” – 踢 (tī) here to talk about playing football in Chinese. 打 (dǎ), which is the Chinese word for “play”, on the other hand, is only used for sports that are played with hands (e.g. basketball, volleyball, tennis).
3. Football Training in Chinese: 足球训练 (zúqiú xùnliàn)
To play football, a high level of training is required. “Football training” is called 足球训练 (zúqiú xùnliàn) in Chinese. We’ll get to the Chinese terms for various football skills in a moment.
4. Football Game/Match in Chinese: 足球比赛 (zúqiú bǐsài)
A football game or match would be called 足球比赛 (zúqiú bǐsài) in Chinese. It may also be possible to shorten it as 球赛 (qiúsài) or 比赛 (bǐsài) in daily conversation and people would understand what you mean as long as the context is clear.
The measure word for football matches is 场 (chǎng), which is also the most common Chinese measure word used for games, performances, and events.
Háiyǒu liǎng chǎng bǐsài.
Two more games to go.
5. Football Team in Chinese: 足球队 (zúqiú duì)
“Football team” in Chinese is called 足球队 (zúqiú duì) since 队 (duì) means “team”.
You may also simply say 球队 (qiúduì) if you’d like, although without the specifications this word can mean other types of ball sports teams as well.
The corresponding measure word for “team” in Chinese is 支 (zhī). For example, a football team is 一支球队 (yì zhī qiúduì).
6. Football Club in Chinese: 足球俱乐部 (zúqiú jùlèbù)
Football clubs are called 足球俱乐部 (zúqiú jùlèbù) in Chinese. A professional football club would be called 职业足球俱乐部 (zhíyè zúqiú jùlèbù) while an amateur one would be called 业余足球俱乐部 (yèyú zúqiú jùlèbù).
7. National Team in Chinese: 国家队 (guójiā duì)
The term for “national team” in Chinese is 国家队 (guójiā duì). The word 国家 (guójiā) can be used to talk about nations or countries in general. For the specific nation, you just add 队 (duì) onto the end of the nation’s name. For example, 巴西队 (Bāxī duì) – Team Brazil.
For a comprehensive list of the nation names in Chinese, check this post out.
8. Football League in Chinese: 联赛 (liánsài)
“Football league” is called 联赛 (liánsài) in Chinese, literally “joined matches”. Here are some of the best football leagues in the world, along with their Chinese terms.
- UEFA Champions League – 欧冠 (ōu guàn)
- English Premier League – 英超 (yīng chāo)
- La Liga – 西甲 (xī jiǎ)
- Bundesliga – 德甲 (dé jiǎ)
- Serie A – 意甲 (yì jiǎ)
- Ligue 1- 法甲 (fǎ jiǎ)
- MLS – 美职联 (měi zhí lián)
- Chinese Super League – 中超 (zhōng chāo)
9. Football Players in Chinese: 球员 (qiúyuán)
The word for footballers in Chinese is 球员 (qiúyuán) – literally, “ball staff”. This is the word you’ll use also when you are talking about other ball sports players. To be more specific, you can say 足球运动员 (zúqiú yùndòngyuán) – “football athletes”.
You may call football stars 球星 (qiú xīng) in Chinese. Do you have a favorite football player? Check out this section for the Chinese names of some of the greatest football players in the world.
10. Coach in Chinese: 教练 (jiàoliàn)
A football coach or manager is referred to as 足球教练 (zúqiú jiàoliàn) in Chinese. The word 教练 (jiàoliàn) literally means “teach (how to) practice” – that’s what coaches are for.
11. Referee in Chinese: 裁判 (cáipàn)
The referee is the decision-making authority during a football match. In Chinese, this person is called 裁判 (cáipàn), while “to referee a game” in Chinese is 执法 (zhí fǎ) – “enforce laws”, or more colloquially, 吹 (chuī) – meaning “blow (the whistle)”.
Běn chǎng bǐsài de cáipàn láizì Bōlán.
The referee for the match comes from Poland.
Tā zhí fǎ /chuī guò shìjiè bēi juésài.
He has refereed the World Cup final.
12. Football Fans in Chinese: 球迷 (qiúmí)
The word for “fan” in Chinese is 球迷 (qiúmí). It can be used to talk about any type of field game played with a ball.
You may also add some modifications if you want to be more specific. For instance, you can say 足球迷 (zúqiúmí) when talking about football. And with basketball, you can say 篮球迷 (lánqiúmí). However, in both cases, you can also simply say 球迷 (qiúmí).
13. Football Stadium/Pitch in Chinese: 球场 (qiúchǎng)
Similarly, 球场 (qiúchǎng) – literally “ball field” can be used to refer to any place where a ball game is played, regardless of the type. Add some specifications if you’d like.
- football field – 足球场 (zúqiúchǎng)
- basketball court – 篮球场 (lánqiúchǎng)
- tennis court – 网球场 (wǎngqiúchǎng)
14. FIFA in Chinese: 国际足联 (guójì zúlián)
FIFA, the international governing body of football is called 国际足联 (guójì zúlián) in Chinese, while the FIFA president is called 国家足联主席 (guójì zúlián zhǔxí).
15. World Cup in Chinese: 世界杯 (shìjiè bēi)
World Cup, the biggest sporting tournament on our planet, is called 世界杯 (shìjiè bēi) in Chinese.
If you want to talk about the World Cup specifically, we also have a dedicated post on Chinese World Cup vocabulary.
Now that you have the most basic vocabulary related to football in Chinese, we are going to provide you with a bunch of lists of the most used Mandarin words to talk about the different aspects of football in Chinese. Check out the following sections broken down by category.
Talking about Football Matches in Chinese
Here are some of the key terms and expressions that you will need for talking about football matches/games in Chinese.
|friendly match||友谊赛||yǒuyì sài|
Football Team Names in Chinese
Who is your favorite team is always a topic that comes up when getting started on talking about football with Chinese people.
We’ve listed some of the most famous football teams in the world below and what they are called in Chinese. You’ll notice that some names are translated phonetically, some via their meaning, whiles others are a combination of both.
|Manchester United||曼联||Màn lián|
|Manchester City||曼城||Màn chéng|
|Liverpool||利物浦||Lì wù pǔ|
|Chelsea||切尔西||Qiè ěr xī|
|Arsenal||阿森纳||Ā sēn nà|
|Real Madrid||皇马||Huáng mǎ|
|Atlético Madrid||马竞||Mǎ jìng|
|Bayern Munich||拜仁||Bài rén|
|Dortmund||多特蒙德||Duō tè méng dé|
|Paris Saint-Germain||巴黎圣日耳曼||Bā lí shèng rì ěr màn|
|Juventus||尤文图斯||Yóu wén tú sī|
|AC Milan||AC米兰||AC Mǐ lán|
|Inter Milan||国米||Guó mǐ|
|Ajax||阿贾克斯||Ā jiǎ kè sī|
|FC Porto||波尔图||Bō ěr tú|
|Boca Juniors||博卡青年||Bó kǎ qīng nián|
|River Plate||河床||Hé chuáng|
|LA Galaxy||洛杉矶银河||Luò shān jī yín hé|
Football Player Names in Chinese
To talk about football in Chinese, you’ll definitely want to know how to say the names of famous football players in Chinese as well.
From Pelé to Mbappé, Chinese media has given an official Chinese name to each influential player in football history. Here are some of the biggest names that you might think of immediately in Chinese, complete with characters and Pinyin.
Football Attire & Equipment in Chinese
If you enjoy playing football, you’ll probably want to know the names of football clothes and equipment below in Chinese.
|goalkeeper gloves||守门员手套||shǒuményuán shǒutào|
Parts of a Football Pitch in Chinese
If you plan to watch some football matches in Chinese, knowing the below parts of the football field in Chinese is never a bad idea.
|penalty box||小禁区||xiǎo jìnqū|
Football Players & Positions in Chinese
Perhaps you would like to converse more about football players with your Chinese friends? Let’s look at some key vocabulary connected to players and positions on the football pitch.
|VAR||视频助理裁判||shìpín zhùlǐ cáipàn|
Football Moves & Rules in Chinese
Getting slightly more technical, we have the Chinese football terminology for moves on the field, rules, and regulations.
|slide tackle||铲球||chǎn qiú|
|own goal||乌龙球||wūlóng qiú|
|out of bounds||出界||chū jiè|
|goal kick||球门球||qiúmén qiú|
|yellow card||黄牌||hóng pái|
|red card||红牌||huáng pái|
|free kick||任意球||rènyì qiú|
|first half||上半场||shàng bànchǎng|
|second half||下半场||xià bànchǎng|
|stoppage time||补时||bǔ shí|
|extra time||加时||jiā shí|
|penalty shootout||点球大战||diǎnqiú dàzhàn|
Talking about Football in Chinese – Example Sentences
Now that we’ve covered all the different tangible components of football in the previous sections, it’s time to use the Chinese football vocabulary in context.
Practice the following sentences and you’ll develop your knowledge of Chinese grammar and gain confidence in speaking Chinese in simple conversations.
Zúqiú zài dà duō guójiā shì zuì shòu huānyíng de yùndòng.
Soccer is the most popular sport in most countries.
Zài Měiguó zúqiú yě yuèláiyuè shòu huānyíng.
Soccer is also gaining in popularity in the United States.
Bāxī shì sāngbā hé zúqiú wángguó.
Brazil is the kingdom of samba and football.
Zúqiú duì tāmen lái shuō shì yì zhǒng xìnyǎng.
Football is a religion for these people.
Wǒmen kěnéng méiyǒu zuì hǎo de qiúduì, dàn yǒu zuì hǎo de qiúmí.
We may not have the best team, but we have the best fans.
Tǐyù bǐsài bù zhǐshì zúqiú, lánqiú hé bàngqiú.
Sports games are not just football, basketball, and baseball.
Nǐ huì tī zúqiú ma?
Do you know how to play football?
Wǒmen xǐhuan zhōurì zài gōngyuán lǐ tī zúqiú.
We like playing football on Sundays in the park.
Wǒmen shèqū yǒu yí gè yóuyǒng chí hé yí gè zúqiú chǎng.
Our community has a swimming pool and a football pitch.
Wǎngshàng yǒu hěnduō miǎnfèi zúqiú bǐsài.
There are lots of free football games online.
Nǐ zhīchí nǎ zhī qiúduì?
Which team do you favor?
Wǒ shì Lì wù pǔ de qiúmí. Wǒ xīwàng jīnnián tāmen ná guànjūn.
I am a big fan of Liverpool. I hope they’ll be the winner this year.
Huáng mǎ shì wǒ bàba zuì xǐhuan de qiúduì.
Real Madrid is my father’s favorite team.
Nǐ zuì xǐhuan nǎ míng qiúyuán?
Who is your favorite football player?
Méi xī huòxǔ shì zhège xīngqiú shàng zuì hǎo de qiúyuán.
Messi is probably the best football player on the planet.
Tā céng zài yì nián zhōng jìn le jiǔ shí yī qiú.
He scored 91 goals in a year.
Wǒ rènwéi Mǔ bā pèi hé Hā lán dé shì xiànzài shìjiè shàng zuì hǎo de qiánfēng.
I think Mbappé and Haaland are the two best strikers in the world now.
Shuō dào zúqiú, nǐ yǒu méiyǒu kàn shìjiè bēi juésài?
Speaking of football, did you watch the World Cup final?
Jīnwǎn de juésài shì Fǎ guó duì Ā gēn tíng.
The final tonight is France vs Argentina.
Chuān lán sè qiúyī, bái sè qiúkù de shì Fǎ guó duì.
The French team is the one wearing blue shirts and white shorts.
- 比赛怎么样了？ (几比几了？)
Bǐsài zěnmeyàng le? (Jǐ bǐ jǐ le?)
How’s the game going? (What’s the score?)
Sān bǐ sān. Bǐsài jìnrù le diǎnqiú dàzhàn.
3-3. The game went to penalties.
Shuí yíng le zuótiān de bǐsài?
Which team won yesterday?
- 比赛太精彩了！ 我很高兴我们赢了。
Bǐsài tài jīngcǎi le! Wǒ hěn gāoxìng wǒmen yíng le.
What an exciting game! I am glad we won!
FAQs about Football in Chinese
1.Why is football 足球 (zúqiú), not 脚球 (jiǎoqiú) in Chinese?
足 (zú) is the more formal word for “foot” in Chinese and it appears in many foot-related words. 脚 (jiǎo) is often used on its own. It’s more colloquial and can mean “leg” as well.
2. How do you say “G.O.A.T” in Chinese?
G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time) in Chinese is 历史最佳 (lìshǐ zuìjiā), literally “best in history”.
3. What is Messi’s Chinese name?
Lionel Messi’s official Chinese name is 梅西 (Méi xī). On Chinese social media, Messi is also often referred to as 梅球王 (Méi qiú wáng) – “Me(ssi) the football king”.
4. What is Ronaldo’s Chinese name?
Christiano Ronaldo is named C罗 (C Luó) in Chinese. 罗 (Luó) is the Mandarin approximation of the sound “Ro” as in “Ronaldo”. It’s also one of the most common family names in China. The Brazilian football legends Ronaldo and Ronaldinho are referred to as 大罗 (Dà Luó) – “Big Ro” and 小罗(Xiǎo Luó) – “Little Ro” respectively in China.
5. Has China ever played in the FIFA World Cup?
Yes. China has played once in the World Cup, and that was in 2002 when it lost all three games and failed to score a single goal. The appearance, however, was monumental.
Related Reading: How to Say and Write Your Name in Chinese
Wanna 3X Your Chinese Progress?
There you go! Everything you wanted to know about football in Chinese! A great way to remember these vocabulary words is to watch a few matches on Chinese-language TV. CCTV-5 and Migu TV are good options. The commentators have an amusing obsession for using player and manager nicknames such as 本泽霸王龙 (Běn zé bàwánglóng) – Benzema, “Benze T.rex”, 快乐男孩 (kuàilè nánhái) – Sterling, “happy boy”, and 魔力鸟 (mólì niǎo) – Mourinho, “magic bird”.
Now, if you’re ready to get serious about learning Chinese, you should make the best out of ImproveMandarin.com, one of the world’s largest sites dedicated to Chinese learning. We serve up straightforward, science-backed guides and honest reviews of courses and apps we’ve battle-tested ourselves to dramatically improve your Chinese.
Here are some articles to help you get started:
- World Cup in Chinese – The Quick Vocabulary Guide
- Sports in Chinese – Words for Physical Activities You’ll Enjoy
- Chinese Grammar Made Easy for Overwhelmed Beginners
- How to Learn Chinese Faster – The 2023 Guide
Pro tip: one of the quickest ways to become conversationally fluent in Chinese is to take a structured Chinese course online. We’ve reviewed every Chinese course out there on the internet. Some are fantastic while others are junk. Here are honestly the best online Chinese courses in 2023.