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Football Language Post: 2022 Women’s Euros – Play out a draw

We look at the phrase ‘play out a draw‘ which was used to describe the match between the Netherlands and Sweden in the 2022 Women’s European Championship. You can read the transcript for this post below, while you can also check out our glossary of footballing phrases here and visit our site to access all our previous posts and podcasts. If you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at

Play out a draw

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When neither team wins a game we say that they have drawn the match (we might also sometimes hear that they have tied the game though this is not as common). In the context of a league match this means that both sides receive one point – they earned a point would mean that a team drew with their opponent. Another way of saying this would be ‘to share the points’ (or sometimes ‘share the spoils‘). It is different in a knockout competition as extra time and possibly penalties are needed to separate the two teams after a draw as one team must go through or continue to the next round (or win) the competition.

In the recent Euro 2022 game between the Netherlands and Sweden (two powerhouses of the European game), the match finished 1-1 so both sides earned a point from their Group C tie. We can say that they played a 1-1 draw but it is also common to hear that two sides played out a 1-1 draw. The meaning of play out is connected to something happening, so in football it is used to describe how a match finished; how it played out. It is nearly always used to describe a draw – we do not really hear the phrase used with a win or loss. Sometimes we will see an adjective inserted into the phrase to give more information about the draw – in the example from the BBC (below), the Sweden-Netherlands game is described as an entertaining draw; they played out an entertaining draw. Of course, the opposite is also true – the two sides played out a dull or boring draw describes a game with little or no entertainment.

  • Example: ‘…the two sides played out an entertaining draw…’ ‘, July 9 2022).
  • Example: Manchester City and Liverpool play out pulsating draw to keep Premier League title race in the balance (CNN April 10 2022).
  • Example: Hungary and Germany play out draw after two early goals in clash (ESPN June 11 2022).

Related Vocabulary

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