What does "down" mean in soccer term?

  • Pérez is busy down the inside left channel again a moment later. He forces a corner, then heads the delivery just over the bar.
  • It’s just a plain preposition indicating direction. No special meaning.
    – Jim
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 2:01
  • @Jim you mean it's like a lower possition? This is soccer, so I don't see there is a lower movement. Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 2:10
  • I believe "down" also carries a meaning of "deep" with it . .. but I also suspect that "up" might also be understood to be the same ... with the opposite to both "down" and "up" being "back" . "Downfield" in american football means towards your opponents goal ... upfield would be relative to the person downfield and backfield would be behind original position
    – Tom22
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 2:27

1 Answer 1


As someone who has watched/listened to/read about football for the last 20 years, "down" in this sense generally signifies a movement towards the opposing goal on an attack, or away from one's own goal in a defensive move.

This is illustrated in the phrases "down the wing" (i.e. on the left- or right-hand side of the pitch, towards the opposing goal) and, conversely, to "hoof it downfield" (for a goalkeeper or defender to kick the ball with some strength away from their area towards the opposing goal, to clear the ball), and you might describe a player as "causing havoc down the right/left", meaning they were a constant threat on the respective side of the pitch.

You can see it here, from a BBC match report:

Fabregas tries to make progress down the right, and the ball comes off Ayoze Perez for a corner.

Or for "down the left", here:

He was the catalyst for the Blues' second goal, cutting Palace open down the left.

And two uses of "downfield" to mean 'away from one's own team's goal':

When they came steaming downfield, Dembele curled a precise shot around the advancing Laidlaw for the fourth.

Misplaced pass followed misplaced pass. Aimless punt downfield followed aimless punt downfield.

Oddly "upfield", rather than having the opposite meaning, can also signify an attacking movement, usually from a defensive position, e.g. in these two articles:

Those supporters were soon dealt another blow as Stephen Robinson's side broke upfield and scored a second.

Everton did not have runners in wide positions busting a gut to get upfield, or a centre-forward who could stretch the pitch.

As you can see from the use of 'break' and 'busting a gut to get upfield', 'upfield' seems to suggest an attack that starts close to the attacking team's goal where this is the desired emphasis.

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