fashion a chanceOn today’s football language listening post we look at some words and phrases connected to when a team is knocked out of a cup competition – the language of elimination. For this audio report there is a transcript which is great for learners and teachers of English. If you have questions or comments about this, or any other football phrase, you can email us at:

Football Language: Language of Elimination

DF: Hello everyone, this is Damian from the Learning English Through Football team – we hope you are all well, and staying safe and looking forward to the Christmas break. Now, in this short football language podcast we are going to look at some look at some words and phrases we might hear in football when a team is knocked out of a cup competition – the language of elimination.

Stinger: You’re listening to Irish)

DF: Now, knockout football is very simple: after each game one team continues in the competition or tournament and the other one does not. There are lots of words and phrases to explain this; such as the losing team has to go home, has been knocked out, eliminated or dumped out of the competition. So let’s look at some of these words.

To be Knocked out

Perhaps the most common phrase to describe when a team has to leave a competition after a defeat is the verb ‘to be knocked out‘ which is a boxing term and describes when a fighter loses a fight. Of course, if someone is knocked out it can also refer to the fact that the person has lost consciousness! If a team is knocked out then the team can no longer play in the competition – they have been knocked out of the competition, they have been knocked out by Bayern Munich, for example. Take a look at these examples to see how the passive voice is used to highlight, to emphasise, the losing team:

  • Tottenham knocked out Stoke City from the Carabao Cup.
  • Stoke City were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Tottenham.

Eliminated from

The verb ‘to eliminate‘ means to get rid of something completely and so in football we can think of it as getting rid of a team from the competition – they will not re-appear. Similar to the verb ‘to knock out’, it is often used in the passive voice to highlight the losing side and often the reason for their elimination comes at the end of the phrase, for example:

  • Stoke City were eliminated from the Carabao Cup by Tottenham
  • Stoke City were eliminated by a disputed goal/by bad refereeing/by a VAR decision

Dumped out of

If a team is dumped out of a competition it means that they have been knocked out but it also suggests that they left the competition in disgrace. Being dumped out of a competiton may mean that a team lost to a lower-ranked team or that they played really badly. We couldn’t, for example, say that Championship side Stoke City were dumped out of the Carabao Cup by Premier League Tottenham but we can say that Newcastle were dumped out by Brentford in the same competition as they are a Premier League side and Brentford are from a lower league (and, of course, Newcastle played poorly).

To Go Out (on penalties/away goals)

A rather simple phrase to describe an elimination is ‘to go out‘ – Everton went out of the Carabao Cup, for example. We sometimes use extra information about the game with this verbal phrase, so Everton went out of the Carabao Cup to a wonder strike from Cavani and this means that Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani scored a great goal to knock out Everton.

Now, if any of the recent Carabao Cup ties had finished in a draw after 90 minutes they would have gone to penalties and then we could say that the losing team had gone out on penalties – on penalties means because of penalties; they lost on penalties. In two-legged matches (home and away) a team might be knocked out on away goals which means that the overall total (the aggregate) was level for both sides but one side had scored more goals in their away tie which acts as a tie-breaker and sends them through to the next stage or round.

Stinger: ‘You are listening to’ (in Catalan).


DF: Thanks everyone for listening – we hope you enjoyed our look at some of the language of elimination. Try and listen out for these when you are watching or reading about a game and let us know how these phrases are said in other languages – you can drop us a line at and let us know or you can leave a comment in the section below this post.

Don’t forget there is also a transcript for this report which can be accessed for free at OK, we’ll be back soon with some more football language. Enjoy all the football over the festive period. Enjoy the holidays and we’ll see you soon. Bye bye.

Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here. If you have any suggestions, contact us at
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