Translating for the 2018 FIFA World Cup

One of the most important sporting events is scheduled to occur on July 15, 2018. The world will watch as teams face off in the 21st FIFA World Cup. This massive event attracts viewers from around the world, making its translation incredibly important.

How Soccer Has Influenced the World

Many countries across the world participate in soccer, or football as it is called in most of the world. There are more than 265 million active players. Many families cite the importance of the sport in their lives from playing as young children to watching games on a regular basis surrounded around the television. Players of the sport say that the soccer brings their people together. The World Cup offers an equalizer in which smaller countries like South Korea, Japan, Algeria, Slovakia and Honduras can compete on an equal footing against larger countries with more prominent athletes. The World Cup offers a collective viewing experience to the world. Billions of viewers will anxiously watch this event. Viewership is further enhanced because FIFA provides free-to-air-broadcasting, allowing the event to achieve maximum audience participation.

Importance of Translation

translation world cup trophy

The World Cup is comprised of 32 teams from countries around the world. FIFA’s language services department estimates that half of the world will watch the World Cup. However, the official languages of FIFA only include four languages: English, Spanish, French and German. Other prominent languages that make up FIFA representation include Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean, Dutch, Croatian, Arabic and Russian. Since the event will be held in Russia this year, it is critical that translators are available to communicate the events to the 144 million Russian speakers in Europe and the 260 million people who speak Russian around the globe. Russia has developed a remote translation centre in Moscow where press conferences can be translated in as many as nine languages at a time.

An event with such a large global following and many languages being spoken by players and fans is only made possible by translators and interpreters working behind the scenes. FIFA relies on its language services department, outsourced translators and volunteers to provide translation services for the global event. The language services department alone interprets approximately three million words per language per year. They translate for hundreds of events surrounding the World Cup. Translators serve important functions during the event, including interviewing players after the game, translating marketing materials, providing information about upcoming matches and accommodating people in hospitality industries. More than 150,000 volunteers are estimated to be providing translation services for the World Cup.

Translating during these events can be complex because of the great number of languages. Additionally, each team may have its own soccer-specific slang, which can make interpreting these comments even more difficult.

Staying Connected during the World Cup

Some ways that fans can stay connected during the World Cup include:

Translation Apps

For fans who will be on the ground in Moscow, translation apps can help ease the language barrier. Translation apps can serve as a powerful tool for tourists who need to get around the city, check into their hotel, find transportation and making their way to the stadium.

Social Media

Today’s viewers are more connected than ever through social media. The World Cup attracts fans from all over the world who have different language backgrounds. Social media is a place for fans to connect with each other and follow their favorite teams. Due to these reasons, translation of social media should be considered an essential part of fan engagement.


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