The long history of French, football and sport

Le français et le sport

France is proud to host Euro 2016

The Euro 2016 soccer championship is being held in France until 10 July. The figures are pretty impressive: 51 matches will be played between 24 different teams, and 1.5 million people are expected to attend! The UEFA European Championship has been in existence for fifty years, and it was France that first proposed the event: the idea came from newspaper L’Equipe and Frenchman Henri Delaunay. Vive la France!

Sport is a perfect opportunity to get to know France and its people better

A trip to France right now offers a chance to watch some football, but also to gain an insight into the French love for the sport and share some intense experiences with local people. Antibes is a very sporty town, and four important Euro 2016 matches will be played in the region between 12 and 27 June. What better time could there be to learn French on the Riviera? Football is France’s most popular sport after tennis and horse-riding – two million people follow the beautiful game. The most prestigious teams include P.S.G. (Paris Saint-Germain), A.S. Monaco and O.L. (Olympique Lyonnais). Dimitri Payet, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann are some of the best players of the current generation. If you want to learn more about how French people live and learn the French language, there’s no better way than talking sport with the locals or supporting their favourite team by attending a match at the stadium.

French makes itself felt in the sporting world

French people will be able to watch matchs in stadiums, on giant screens or get together in fan zones. These terms, as you will have gathered, come from our Anglo-Saxon friends, along with many others related to football, of course. In everyday life, we use the words but (goal), gardien (goalkeeper), arbitre (referee), tacle (tackle), coup franc (free kick) and hors-jeu (offside) more often than their English equivalents. But on the other hand, we gladly employ the English terms dribble, penalty, supporter, play-off, corner, score, coach, sponsor and so on. You are much more likely to hear supporter than supporteur and penalty is more common than tir de réparation! In fact, French and English often co-exist in the sporting world, and this is also true when it comes to the official languages used by major sporting organisations. Did you know that, after the death of Pierre de Coubertin, the International Olympic Committee opted to use the language of Molière? UEFA currently uses French, English and German, while the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) both employ French as one of their official languages. Even better: in international fencing competitions, the referee must speak in French. This is why you might here phrases such as “En garde ! Etes-vous prêts ? Allez ! Halte !” (“On guard. Ready? Fence! Halt!”) Yet another good opportunity to learn French!

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