Soccer idioms

Kicking off with soccer idioms

<alt="player in blue kick doing a flying kick with ball to illustrate soccer idioms.">

Soccer is a popular sport the world over.  It is therefore not surprising that there are so many soccer idioms in everyday language.

Here’s a list of the most common soccer idioms in English. Explanations and examples of how they can be used in context are also provided. 

  1. To be on the ball: to be quick to understand and to react to things My assistant is really on the ball. She picked up an error in the financial year-end figures. 
  2. To get a kick out of something: to get a lot of enjoyment out of something
    I really get a kick out of helping other people, which is why I volunteer at the night shelter for the homeless.
  3. To get the ball rolling: to start something
    Our break has been long enough now. We must get the ball rolling again and get back to work.
  4. To watch from the sidelines: to not be actively involved in something
    My grandfather is no longer active in the family business any more. These days, he merely watches from the sidelines.
  5. To take sides: to choose one side of an argument
    The staff are unhappy about the change in working conditions. But I understand management’s position, so it’s really difficult to take sides.
  6. A political football: an issue that politicians from different parties disagree about, and which can be used to gain advantage
    The ruling party is using its promise to subsidise university education as a political football, in an attempt to gain support in the next elections.
  7. To move the goalposts: to change the rules while people are trying to do something, in an attempt to make it more difficult for them
    The wage negotiations are not going that well, because each time we agree on something, management keeps moving the goalposts.
  8. To blow the whistle on someone: to report someone’s wrongdoing to the appropriate authorities who have the power to do something about it
    The man was not very popular when he blew the whistle on the manager’s shady deals, but it was definitely the right thing to do.

   For more on idioms in general, go to


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