World Cup 2014: How Do You Say “Soccer” and “Goal”?

The Round of 16 of the World Cup has come to a close, and conversation during individual matches on Facebook has been lively. With over 1 Billion posts, comments, and likes since the start of the tournament, the conversation has also been global, and not surprisingly there are differences across regions and languages in how people express themselves.

soccer_analysisData analysis explores how people around the world refer to “soccer” on Facebook

Facebook’s Data Team analyzed World Cup posts and comments since the beginning of the tournament containing mentions of the word “soccer” in many different languages, and mapped their findings across the globe. The map above shows which translations of the word “soccer” are disproportionately used on Facebook in each country.

The top five most prevalent translations and spellings in posts and comments about the sport:

  1. Soccer
  2. Football
  3. Fútbol
  4. Futebol
  5. Futbol

We also looked into the use of the word “goal” on Facebook, and how people were stretching out the term (i.e. GOOOOAL!) as an expression of jubilation. This map shows the average character length of the word “goal” mentioned on Facebook by people located in various countries around the world. Darker-shaded countries indicate a higher average character length, and lighter-shaded countries indicate a lower one:


Mapping out permutations of “goal” and the length of the terms (i.e. GOOOOOOAL) used by people on Facebook

Only in Spanish, Portuguese, English, and German do we find significant use of redundant characters in exuberant posts (such as “Goooool!,” “GOOOAAALLLL!,” or “Tooooooor!”). For the greatest number of characters in expression of the word “goal” on Facebook, Venezuela would top the list with an average of 21 characters. While most other Latin American countries have high averages, this practice is certainly not limited to South and Central America, as shown in the top five list of countries by average character length:

  1. Venezuela (21.2 characters)
  2. Gabon (18.4)
  3. Tunisia (13.4)
  4. Mexico (12.8)
  5. Montenegro (12.8)

The top five most prevalent translations and spellings in posts and comments about goals:

  1. Gol (Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese)
  2. Goal (English)
  3. ประตู (Thai)
  4. Tor (German)
  5. ゴール (Japanese)

People on Facebook tended to post these exuberant mentions right after key moments in matches. In particular, goals scored by Neymar Jr. from Brazil consistently garner a high number of exuberant mentions.

The Top 10 moments that generated the most number of people sharing posts and comments about goals:

  1. Javier “Chicharito” Hernández seals Mexico’s win over Croatia with a goal to make it 3-0 (June 23rd)
  2. Neymar Jr. scores his first World Cup goal, bringing Brazil level with Croatia 1-1 in the tournament opener (June 12th)
  3. Neymar Jr. scores in the 17th minute to give Brazil a 1-0 lead over Cameroon (June 23rd)
  4. Neymar Jr. converts the questionably-awarded penalty kick to give Brazil a 2-1 lead over Croatia (June 12th)
  5. Neymar Jr. nets his second goal against Cameroon, restoring Brazil’s lead 2-1 (June 23rd)
  6. Andrés Guardado doubles Mexico’s lead over Croatia 2-0 minutes after they opened the scoring (June 23)
  7. Captain Rafa Marquez puts in a header off a corner kick to give Mexico a 1-0 lead over Croatia (June 23rd)
  8. Fernandino scores Brazil’s fourth goal against Cameroon (June 23rd)
  9. Fred scores to give Brazil a 3-1 lead over Cameroon (June 23rd)
  10. Diego Godin scores against Italy to give Uruguay a 1-0 lead and send them through to the round of 16 (June 24th)

The longest exuberant mention of the word “goal,” in any language, came from Argentina in celebration of Messi’s free-kick goal against Nigeria on June 25. That mention of “gol” contained 20,400 occurrences of the letter “o”. If you were to hold down the “o” key on your keyboard it would take roughly 12 minutes to type!

– By Dustin Cable, Facebook Data Analyst



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