Do you speak Football? Everyday french expressions

Les Européens français

Euro 2016 kicked-off at the Stade de France on June 10, 2016. During a whole month, teams will compete for the viewing pleasure of their supporters. This year, France is the host country of this football competition; it is the occasion to discover new idiomatic french expressions relating to the round-ball game.

Banc de Touche

The banc de touche (substitutes’ bench) refers to the sheltered bench located just outside the field, where the players warm up, waiting to be called to substitute starters. In everyday language, “être sur le banc de touche” (to be on the substitutes’ bench) means “to be sidelined, to be excluded”.


The carton (card) can be either red or yellow and indicates a sanction. When yellow, it can be synonym of a warning; when red, it signifies a sent off. Between friends, the French sometimes shout humorously “carton rouge” (red card) to call out on an action, a situation, or a word that they consider unacceptable.

Un partout, la balle au centre

The kick off happening at the beginning of each half of the game always takes place at the center of the field. This way, both teams are at equal distance from their opponents’ goal. In French, the expression “un point partout, la balle au centre” (even score, ball at the center spot) means that both parties of a debate, an argument, a competition, or a dispute, are even.


In football, a tackle is a move used by a player to try and steal the ball from an opponent. Because the tackler has to slide with an extended leg, it is not unusual for players to end up tripping their opponents — which is of course a foul! The expression “tacler” is used in French to refer to the action of countering someone either verbally or physically.

Dégager en touche

In football (but also in rugby) it is not uncommon for players who find themselves in a difficult situation to kick into touch. Even if this means that the ball goes to the opponents, kicking in touch can be an opportunity for players to reorganize themselves, or to take a short break. In everyday language, “dégager en touche” means: to change the subject of a conversation so as to avoid answering a question. Learning a new language sometimes imply going off the beaten tracks to discover everyday expressions. At Centre International d'Antibes, we always incorporate a dash of fun into our teachings to make them more pleasant but also more relevant to daily conversations. If you are fond of idiomatic expressions, why not join us for French classes on the French Riviera? In the meantime, enjoy Euro 2016 and may the best team win!

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