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Glossary: U-Z

View a glossary of related terms. This page features terms beginning with the letters U-Z.

Standing for the ‘Union of European Football Associations’, this is the governing body of European football, representing the national football associations of Europe as well as running national and club competitions in the continent, such as the UEFA Champions League and Uefa Europa League.

UEFA Champions League
The most prestigious club football competition in Europe, which started in 1955 as the European Champion Clubs’ Cup or European Cup and changed to the UEFA Champions League in 1992. It used to be a straight knockout tournament available only to the champions of each member association, but now more teams are allowed into the competition and there is a group stage before the knockout rounds begin. In England, the top four clubs in the Barclays Premier League at the end of the season are allowed into the Champions League, though the team finishing fourth must play a qualifying match to try and get into the group stage. It takes place annually.

UEFA Cup Winners' Cup

This was a competition contested between the most recent winners of all the European domestic cups, so England’s representatives were the winners of the FA Cup. It was first held in 1960/61, but ended in 1998/99, after which the domestic cup winners went into the UEFA Cup (now Europa League) instead.

Uefa Europa League

This is a competition played between teams in Europe who have qualified either through their domestic league, their domestic cup competition, or via the Fair Play League, which rewards teams with good ‘disciplinary records’. Previously called the UEFA Cup, it began in 1971 and is the second most prestigious European club football tournament after the UEFA Champions League. It takes place annually.

UEFA European Championship
Held every four years, this is the principal national football competition run by UEFA for European countries to participate in. It started in 1960 as the UEFA European Nations Cup and the tournament now involves 16 teams, taking just over three weeks to complete. For two years prior to the competition, European countries must attempt to qualify for the ‘Euros’.

UEFA European Super Cup
This is an annual, one-off football match organised by UEFA in August between the winners of the UEFA Champions League and the winners of the UEFA Europa League, held at a ‘neutral venue’. It began in 1972 and from 2013 onwards will be played at various stadiums around Europe, having been played solely at Monaco’s Stade Louis II from 1998 to 2012.

Unsportsmanlike conduct
Also known as ‘ungentlemanly conduct’, this is conduct considered unbefitting of a football player on the pitch, though not necessarily breaking the Laws of the Game. It could be that a player pretends he has an injury when he does not, or teases an opposing player after a goal. Some offences are punishable, such as a player ‘diving’ on the pitch should be shown a yellow card by the referee.

Violent conduct

A player found guilty of violent conduct will be shown a straight red card by the referee. This could be if a player has striking someone, elbowed them or stamped on them. If the referee has not seen the offence, the Football Association could use video evidence to later punish the offender.


A volley is a ball struck by a player that has not bounced, ie fallen from the air and stuck on the full. A half-volley is one where the player hits the ball as it makes contact with the ground, or a split-second later. Volleyed goals are generally considered to be impressive ones, as it is a difficult skill to pull off.

When a team has a free-kick in a dangerous area and they are likely to shoot for goal, the defending team can construct a ‘wall’, or ‘defensive wall’, in order to make it more difficult for the attacking team to score. The players in a wall must be standing at least 10 yards away from the ball when a free-kick is struck, and often they jump in the air when the kick is taken so as to make it even more difficult for the ball to pass.

Water-logged pitch
A match can be ‘postponed’ or even ‘abandoned’ due to a water-logged pitch, which is caused by an excessive amount of rain on the field. If the ball cannot roll due to how much water there is, or it has become dangerous for the players, then the referee is entitled to stop the match.

Wembley Stadium was built in 1923 and was often called the ‘Empire Stadium’, becoming famous for its twin towers and place as the home of English football, hosting home England matches, FA Cup finals and the final of the 1966 World Cup, which England won by beating West Germany. It was knocked down in 2003, rebuilt and reopened in 2007 as a 90,000-capacity stadium. It is owned by the Football Association.

See ‘Referee’s whistle’

The best result possible in football. In the Barclays Premier League, winning a match earns a team three points.

These are attacking players who play on the sides of the pitch in forward positions, usually coming up against full-backs from the opposing team. They are usually fast and like to dribble with the ball, and their main job is to supply the team’s strikers with goalscoring chances, by crossing the ball to them. Wingers who are good with both feet are considered especially dangerous, as they can go out wide and cross the ball and also cut inside and shoot.

The frame of the goal is called the woodwork, so if a shot hits the frame it will often be described as ‘clipping the woodwork’ or ‘coming back off the woodwork’. Sometimes the woodwork will be said to have helped the defending team, as in ‘they were saved by the woodwork’.

World Cup
This is the biggest football tournament in the world, held ever four years in a different country who has won a bidding process. It is run by Fifa, who are world football’s governing body. Over 200 countries throughout the world try to qualify for the World Cup, but only 32 teams make it. The tournament starts off in a group stage, before ending with knockout rounds. Brazil are the most successful country, having won the World Cup five times.

Yellow card

See ‘Booking’

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