The Language of Postponements and Cancellations: In this football language post we explain some of the words and phrases connected to postponements and cancellations as nearly all football leagues have been forced to stop due to Coronavirus 19. Is there a difference between the verbs ‘postpone’ and ‘cancel‘? How about ‘suspend‘? What do we mean by the term ‘void‘ and what is ‘expunge‘? Don’t forget we have hundreds more explanations of football language in our football glossary. You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the file below – you can also subscribe and listen to all our football-language podcasts. There is also a transcript so you can improve your English by reading as you listen, or if you are a teacher of English you can use the transcript to make several activities for your learners. If you have questions or comments, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org (Damian=DF)
DF: Hello everybody, my name is Damian and I am one half of the languagecaster team and you’re listening to the Learn English Through Football Podcast. We hope that you are well and safe wherever you are listening to us. Now, obviously there is no football taking place at the moment so on this extra listening podcast we take a look at some of the language being used to describe phrases connected to postponements and cancellations. Now, we have a transcript with this short report so you can improve your English by reading as you listen, or if you are a teacher of English you can use the transcript to make several activities for your learners. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments then you can email us at: email@example.com.
Stinger: You are listening to Languagecaster.com (in Vietnamese)
DF: OK, first of all we will start with the verb ‘to postpone‘ and then explain ‘cancel‘, ‘suspend‘, ‘void‘ and ‘expunge‘.
The verb to postpone is used quite a lot in football when a match cannot take place at a certain time but can be played again at a later date – this, as we shall see, is different from void and cancel. In a regular season a match may be postponed because of a waterlogged pitch (so the game is unplayable as there is too much water on the pitch) or maybe one of the teams has to play another game in a different competition at the same time. Currently, the FA have postponed all football in England until the end of April although that date will more than likely change over the next few days. Some big tournaments have already been postponed including the Olympic football tournament which will now take place in 2021, as will the European Championships which were due to take place this summer but will now be played in the summer of 2021.
- Example: Postponement of professional game extended after update from FA, Premier League & EFL (FA.com March 19 2020).
- Example: Euro 2020 postponed for a year by Uefa because of coronavirus crisis (Guardian 17 March 2020)
The verb ‘to cancel‘ means to stop an event happening – a decision is taken to not go ahead with the event. If a game is cancelled in football it means that the game will not take place now or in the future. So, for example, this week the Belgian FA have decided to cancel the domestic league – the Belgian Pro League – which means that no more games will be played ‘this season’ and the current positions or standings will stay the same; something that UEFA does not want to happen in other countries. This all means that Club Brugge have been crowned champions for the 2019-20 season in Belgium. This decision was made easier by the fact that Club Brugge were 15 points clear of second placed Gent with only one game remaining although decisions about other issues such as relegation and European positions will be decided later this month.
- Example: Club Bruges to be named champions as Belgian Pro League cancelled (BBC April 2 2020)
The verb ‘to suspend‘ is different from cancel as there is a possibility that the decision to stop something can be changed – it is not a permanent decision. So, for example, when we say that English football has been suspended it means that the 2019-20 season has been stopped because of Coronavirus but there is still a possibility that it will start again (to resume) in the future. On March 19th, the decision was taken to suspend all football in the UK which meant all leagues and divisions in both men’s and women’s football have stopped although there is still a possibility they will resume soon.
- Example: La Liga: Spanish football suspended indefinitely because of coronavirus crisis (BBC 23 March 2020)
Void/null and void
The meaning of ‘void‘ is connected to the adjective ’empty’ – the void in my life means there is nothing there, while ‘null and void‘ is something that is invalid, something that is not legally recognised. So, to void something is to make it empty or invalid and in the case of the current football context to void the season would mean that the season did not actually take place and that all results up until now would not count – they would not be recognised. This is what has happened in the lower levels of football in England – non-league football – which includes hundreds of different clubs all over the country and means that all results from the 2019-20 season now do not count at all. Of course, this has caused a lot of controversy as some clubs were so far ahead in their divisions that it seems unfair for them to have to start again when the next season begins.
- Example: Non-league South Liverpool’s dreams shattered as season declared null and void (BBC 27 March 2020)
This word is connected to voiding the season and means to remove something completely – in this case it means to remove all the results from a season; the results have been expunged and the season has been declared null and void. If the Premier League expunged all of the results from the 2019-20 season then there would be real controversy as it might mean there would be no champions, no teams would be relegated, no Golden Boot winner, no European places for next season and no recognised individual records.
- Example: More than 100 non-league clubs send letter to FA over expunging season (BBC 31 March 2020).
Stinger: You are listening to Languagecaster.com (in Japanese)
DF: OK, that’s it for this short podcast – there are a lot of decisions to be made over the next few weeks as federations, leagues, clubs, players and supporters, as well as broadcasters, sponsors and possibly lawyers will all want to be involved in the process. What do you think should happen? Should the football authorities further postpone, suspend, cancel or void the remainder of their seasons?
Don’t forget to say hello to us here at languagecaster via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, our football language forums and of course by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks everyone for listening and we hope you stay safe and of course that we will soon all be back watching football again. Bye bye!
- An interesting article from BBC Sport explains the different options available to football organisers about what to do with the 2019-20 season.
- Fabio Venni from Amsterdam, NL / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)
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