Photo: Franck Fife/AFP
The Euro 2020 tournament is now underway with France – one of the favourites to win the trophy.
So here is some vocab to help you get into the spirit.
Allez les bleus!
Let’s start with the basics. This literally means “Go the blues” and is perhaps the most popular phrase of French football (and rugby and handball). Pronounced “allay lay bleugh“, you can shout it before, during, or after the game. If you’d prefer, a similar version is “Allez les gars” (Allay lay garr) which means “Come on guys” in a kind of encouraging tone.
And if you want to urge France to score a goal then just shout allez! it’s basically their version of come onnnnnn!
Not strictly football related, but if you’re watching in a venue with more than 1,000 people, such as a large fan zone, you will need a pass sanitaire (health passport) to prove you are either vaccination, recently covered from Covid or have been tested – find out how it works here.
Anyone not jumping is not French
If things are hotting up, there could be a moment when all the French fans start jumping and chanting and you might want to jump with them (although technically if you are watching in a bar, you should remain seated in accordance with the health rules).
They will likely be going through an old chant that basically says anyone who is not jumping isn’t French or in the native language: “Qui ne saute pas n’est pas Français”.
“On est en finale”
If things go really well (or your mates are just optimists) a popular song that you’ll likely hear break out is the very simple: “We’re in the final” or “On est en finale”.
You can hear it in the video below.
While the Brits may say “YEAHHH” and the Spanish will say GOOOOOL to celebrate a goal, the French seem to have a couple of options. They might shout “BUUUUUT” (or “goal”), a caveman-esque OUUUUUIIIIIII (or YESSSSSSS), or just GOAAALLL in English.
The French won’t hesitate to call out an actor, so if someone looks like they’re faking an injury then yell out “comédien”.
The French will shout this, or more likely “Pénaltyyyyyyyyy” if they think France deserves a penalty.
Tirs au but
Tirs au but is the dreaded penalty shoot out at the end of games which are still level after extra time.
This, as we’ve written before, is one of the most versatile and important swear words in French. It’s roughly the equivalent of “shit”, and is useful to say when something astonishingly good happens (pu-taiiiiiiiin) or when something terrible happens (PU-TAIN! or Puttaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin).
There are two ways to pronounce it. The first is puTAIN (pronounced poo-TAHn), the other drops out the u and becomes almost one syllable, so p’TAIN (pTAHn).
And if things are not going well for Les Bleus we can expect the frustration levels to boil over and the swear words to really come firing out.
Putain will become putain de merde if the opposition score, and if they score again then feel free to use putain de bordel de merde in sympathy with your frustrated French friends.
Oh là là là là là là !
Slightly more family-friendly and often heard on TV commentary is the super-charged version of oh là là ! – it can be either good or bad but often used for moments of surprise, such as when a player misses an open goal.
Feel like an opposing player is offside? Then yell out “hors-jeu“. Pronounced: orr zheurgh.
Arbitre carton jaune!
Does a player deserve a yellow card? Then tell the ref, of course. Just yell out something that sounds like “Arrbeet karton zhonne”.
But the reality is you will normally hear the French most football fans insulting the referee when he makes a decision they don’t like, in which case if you want to join in you could say:
Arbitre enculé! – which basically means you bastard referee, a phrase we obviously don’t condone.
The classic refereeing insult in French is Aux chiottes arbitre! which literally means “to the toilet referee!”
You also might hear these words a lot: Putain d’arbitre.
And another word you can shout at the referee if you think a French player has been fouled is Faute! If he doesn’t give the foul then see above for how to react.
Many French fans won’t hesitate to yell out payé after a bad call, suggesting the referee has indeed been paid off.
This word, pronounced kind of like “marn”, is what you should yell if a player appears to touch the ball (or “handball” in English).
Lastly, shout out “quel but” or “What a goal!” when Karim Benzema does his thing.
And the national anthem
France has one of the world’s best national anthems for sporting purposes, it’s got a really rousing tune and suitably combative lyrics and is usually belted out at key moments during matches.
If you can’t remember the words or can’t pronounce them, have our little cheat sheet handy (below).