OCT 16


Officials at the top level of the game may find themselves having to explain decisions to players from all over the world, so how do they communicate?

The Champions League and Europa League showcase football at its most diverse, with players, officials and, of course, fans from all over the world, all speaking different languages.

The 2020 Champions League final, for example, featured players from 11 countries from Europe, Africa, plus North, South and Central America.

Such diversity helps create arguably the highest standard of football played anywhere on the planet.

It also presents challenges, particularly for the referees tasked with keeping play within the rules. While club captains should be the main figures talking to referees on the pitch, the reality is often very different, and an official could find themself having to explain a decision to players from six different continents at once.

So how do they communicate?

To officiate a Champions League or Europa League match, UEFA referees must be able to speak English. Referees will generally speak to players in English as it is the most commonly spoken language in Europe.

According to Ethnologue, English remains the most widely spoken language in the world, with more than 1.25 billion people able to speak English as a first or second language. Babbel estimates around half of Europeans between 15 and 35 years old speak good English.

At international level, FIFA has four official languages: English, Spanish, French and German. Again, international referees must be able to speak good English.

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