Football Language: Shoulder barge (charge)

This post explains the football term ‘shoulder barge’.Shoulder barge Find out more about this phrase by reading the transcript below, while you can also find many more examples of soccer vocabulary by going to our football cliches page here and our huge football glossary here.

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Football Language: Shoulder barge

You can use this phrase, shoulder barge, as a verb or a noun. A barge is a very strong push. It is done with the purpose of deliberately pushing someone to move them from their position. In football, a shoulder barge describes the action when a player, who is trying to get to the ball, uses his or her shoulder to push against an opposing player’s shoulder – the shoulders touch. It is not seen very often now, as referees will often award a direct free kick if there is physical contact off the ball. However, in the laws of the game a shoulder barge, or shoulder charge, is legal. Both players have a right to get to the ball and they can push each other’s shoulder with their own – they can shoulder barge their opponent.

Example: Football fans often complain that ‘players can’t use the old fashioned shoulder charge these days’. I’m sure that Manchester United supporters were saying something similar when Wayne Rooney heaved Glen Johnson off the ball as they ran towards the Stoke goal. (From Reading Referees Association, 11 February 2016)

Example: Cesar Azpilicueta’s response to Romelu Lukaku’s shoulder barge during Manchester United vs Chelsea (Manchester Evening News, April 2019)

Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here and if you have any suggestions or questions, contact us at

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I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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Football GlossaryEpisode 758