In this football language podcast we look at the phrase ‘soft penalty‘. You can read a transcript for this podcast 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

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Learning English Through Football Podcast: Soft Penalty

DF: Hello everyone, this is Damian from the team – I hope you are all doing well. Now in today’s very short football language podcast we are going to look at the phrase ‘soft penalty‘.

Stinger: You are listening to (in Irish).

Soft penalty

Referees award penalties for an infringement or foul in the penalty area, for example, a defender may handle the ball or foul an opponent but sometimes it is not always easy to make these decisions. We use the phrase ‘soft penalty‘ to describe a situation when a referee awards or gives a penalty that should not really have been given; perhaps a player had dived or pretended to win the penalty. A soft penalty suggests that if the referee had not awarded the spot kick it would not have been protested too much by the attacking side. And although it might sound like it, the phrase ‘soft penalty‘ does not describe the strength of how a spot kick was hit by a player – maybe we would use the phrase ‘weak penalty’ instead. By the way, the opposite of soft penalty would be a stonewall penalty or a blatant penalty which would be a clear penalty with no doubt attached to it. Soft penalty.

  • Example: The Irish manager felt the penalty decision was soft and that the referee had fallen for the dive.
  • Example: ‘Hamilton boss Rice irked by ‘very soft’ Celtic penalty award’ (, 26 December 2020).

Good Bye

DF: Don’t forget that there’s a transcript to this podcast and lots of vocab support which you can access by coming along to our site. OK, that’s it for this short podcast and we hope you enjoyed our look at the phrase ‘soft penalty‘ and we’ll be back with more soon. Don’t forget that you can also come and find lots of football language on our site here at Enjoy all the football and we’ll see you again soon. Bye bye.

More language

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

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Learn English Through FootballWelcome to the website that helps students interested in football improve their English language skills. Football fans can practise with lots of free language resources, including football-language podcasts and our huge football-language glossary.

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