Football in Chinese (149 Words & Phrases to Supercharge Your Mandarin Football Vocabulary)

football in Mandarin Chinese

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.

English ChinesePinyin
football (soccer)足球zúqiú
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
league联赛liánsài
players球员qiúyuán
coach教练jiàoliàn
referee裁判cáipàn
fans球迷qiúmí
stadium/pitch球场qiúchǎng
FIFA国际足联guójì zúlián
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.

Example:

  • 还有两场比赛。
    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)”.

Examples:

  • 本场比赛的裁判来自波兰。
    Běn chǎng bǐsài de cáipàn láizì Bōlán.
    The referee for the match comes from Poland.
  • 他执法/吹过世界杯决赛。
    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.

Examples:

  • 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

football vocabulary in Chinese

Here are some of the key terms and expressions that you will need for talking about football matches/games in Chinese.

EnglishChinesePinyin
…vs……对…duì
result结果jiéguǒ
win/beatyíng
loseshū
draw/tiepíng
the score比分bǐfēn
points积分jīfēn
season赛季sàijì
home match主场zhǔchǎng
away match客场kèchǎng
friendly match友谊赛yǒuyì sài
final决赛juésài
victory胜利shènglì
defeat失利shīlì
winner冠军guànjūn
runner-up亚军yàjūn
promotion升级shēngjí
relegation降级jiàngjí

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.

English ChinesePinyin
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
Spurs热刺Rè cì
Real Madrid皇马Huáng mǎ
Barcelona巴萨Bā sà
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 MilanAC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.

Messi Chinese name

梅西

Méi xī
Messi
Christiano Ronaldo Chinese name

C罗

C Luó
Ronaldo (CR7)
Neymar Chinese name

内马尔

Nèi mǎ ěr
Neymar
Mbappe Chinese name

姆巴佩

Mǔ bā pèi
Mbappé
Haaland Chinese name

哈兰德

Hā lán dé
Haaland
Benzema Chinese name

本泽马

Běn zé mǎ
Benzema
Modric Chinese name

莫德里奇

Mò dé lǐ qí
Modric
Harry Kane Chinese name

凯恩

kǎi ēn
Kane
Thiery Henry Chinese name

亨利

Hēng lì
Henry
Beckham Chinese name

贝克汉姆

Bèi kè hàn mǔ
Beckham
Zidane Chinese name

齐达内

Qí dá nèi
Zidane
Ronaldinho Chinese name

小罗

Xiǎo Luó
Ronaldinho
Ronaldo Chinese name

罗纳尔多

Luó nà ěr duō
Ronaldo
Maradona Chinese name

马拉多纳

Mǎ lā duō nà
Maradona
Pele Chinese name

贝利

Bèi lì
Pelé

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.

EnglishChinesePinyin
football boots/cleats球鞋qiúxié
football jersey球衣qiúyī
football shorts球裤qiúkù
football socks球袜qiúwà
shin guards护腿板hùtuǐbǎn
armband袖标xiùbiāo
goalkeeper gloves守门员手套shǒuményuán shǒutào
whistle哨子shàozi

Parts of a Football Pitch in Chinese  

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.

EnglishChinesePinyin
pitch/field球场qiúchǎng
goal球门qiúmén
goal post立柱lìzhù
crossbar横梁héngliáng
net球网qiúwǎng
goal line底线dǐxiàn
touchline边线biānxiàn
corner角球区jiǎoqiúqū
corner flag角旗jiǎoqí
penalty area禁区jìnqū
penalty box小禁区xiǎo jìnqū
penalty spot点球点diǎnqiúdiǎn
halfway line中线zhōngxiàn
center circle中圈zhōngquān
center spot开球点kāiqiúdiǎn
bench替补席tìbǔxí
stands看台kàntái

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.  

EnglishChinesePinyin
formation阵型zhènxíng
forward/striker前锋qiánfēng
center forward中锋zhōngfēng
winger边锋biānfēng
midfielder中场zhōngchǎng
attacking midfielder前腰qiányāo
defensive midfielder后腰hòuyāo
defender后卫hòuwèi
center-back中后卫zhōnghòuwèi
wing-back边后卫biānhòuwèi
goalkeeper/goalie守门员/门将shǒuményuán/ménjiàng
captain队长duìzhǎng
teammates队友duìyǒu
substitutes替补tìbǔ
referee裁判cáipàn
linesman边裁biāncái
VAR视频助理裁判shìpín zhùlǐ cáipàn

Football Moves & Rules in Chinese   

soccer vocabulary in Chinese

Getting slightly more technical, we have the Chinese football terminology for moves on the field, rules, and regulations.

EnglishChinesePinyin
tactics战术zhànshù
attack进攻jìngōng
defense防守fángshǒu
counterattack反击fǎnjī
skills技术jìshù
dribble带球dài qiú
pass传球chuán qiú
shoot/shot射门shè mén
header头球tóu qiú
tackle抢断qiǎngduàn
slide tackle铲球chǎn qiú
block封堵fēngdǔ
assist助攻zhùgōng
save扑救pūjiù
goal进球jìn qiú
own goal乌龙球wūlóng qiú
hat-trick帽子戏法màozi xìfǎ
kick-off开球kāi qiú
out of bounds出界chū jiè
throw-in边线球biānxiàn qiú
corner-kick角球jiǎo qiú
goal kick球门球qiúmén qiú
offside越位yuèwèi
foul犯规fànguī
handball手球shǒu qiú
dive假摔jiǎshuāi
warning警告jǐnggào
yellow card黄牌hóng pái
red card红牌huáng pái
sending-off罚下fá xià
free kick任意球rènyì qiú
penalty kick点球diǎnqiú
injure受伤shòushāng
substitution换人huàn rén
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

talk about football in Chinese

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.

  • 足球在大多国家是最受欢迎的运动。
    Zúqiú zài dà duō guójiā shì zuì shòu huānyíng de yùndòng.
    Soccer is the most popular sport in most countries.
  • 在美国足球也越来越受欢迎。
    Zài Měiguó zúqiú yě yuèláiyuè shòu huānyíng.
    Soccer is also gaining in popularity in the United States.
  • 巴西是桑巴和足球王国。
    Bāxī shì sāngbā hé zúqiú wángguó.
    Brazil is the kingdom of samba and football.
  • 足球对他们来说是一种信仰。
    Zúqiú duì tāmen lái shuō shì yì zhǒng xìnyǎng.
    Football is a religion for these people.
  • 我们可能没有最好的球队,但有最好的球迷。
    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.
  • 体育比赛不只是足球,篮球和棒球。
    Tǐyù bǐsài bù zhǐshì zúqiú, lánqiú hé bàngqiú.
    Sports games are not just football, basketball, and baseball.
  • 你会踢足球吗?
    Nǐ huì tī zúqiú ma?
    Do you know how to play football?
  • 我们喜欢周日在公园里踢足球。
    Wǒmen xǐhuan zhōurì zài gōngyuán lǐ tī zúqiú.
    We like playing football on Sundays in the park.
  • 我可以和你们一起踢球吗?
    Wǒ kěyǐ hé nǐmen yìqǐ tī qiú ma?
    Can I play football with you guys?
  • 我们社区有一个游泳池和一个足球场。
    Wǒmen shèqū yǒu yí gè yóuyǒng chí hé yí gè zúqiú chǎng.
    Our community has a swimming pool and a football pitch.
  • 网上有很多免费足球比赛。
    Wǎngshàng yǒu hěnduō miǎnfèi zúqiú bǐsài.
    There are lots of free football games online.
  • 你支持哪只球队?
    Nǐ zhīchí nǎ zhī qiúduì?
    Which team do you favor?
  • 我是利物浦的球迷。我希望今年他们拿冠军。
    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.
  • 皇马是我爸爸最喜欢的球队。
    Huáng mǎ shì wǒ bàba zuì xǐhuan de qiúduì.
    Real Madrid is my father’s favorite team.
  • 你最喜欢哪名球员?
    Nǐ zuì xǐhuan nǎ míng qiúyuán?
    Who is your favorite football player?
  • 梅西或许是这个星球上最好的球员。
    Méi xī huòxǔ shì zhège xīngqiú shàng zuì hǎo de qiúyuán.
    Messi is probably the best football player on the planet.
  • 他曾在一年中进了九十一球。
    Tā céng zài yì nián zhōng jìn le jiǔ shí yī qiú.
    He scored 91 goals in a year.
  • 我认为姆巴佩和哈兰德是现在世界上最好的前锋。
    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.
  • 说到足球,你有没有看世界杯决赛?
    Shuō dào zúqiú, nǐ yǒu méiyǒu kàn shìjiè bēi juésài?
    Speaking of football, did you watch the World Cup final?
  • 今晚的决赛是法国对阿根廷。
    Jīnwǎn de juésài shì Fǎ guó duì Ā gēn tíng.
    The final tonight is France vs Argentina.
  • 穿蓝色球衣,白色球裤的是法国队。
    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?)
  • 三比三。比赛进入了点球大战。
    Sān bǐ sān. Bǐsài jìnrù le diǎnqiú dàzhàn.
    3-3. The game went to penalties.
  • 谁赢了昨天的比赛?
    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:

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 2024.

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