Word of the Week: Schwalbenkönig

Jun 10, 2016

With the European Championship around the corner, Germans are all about soccer this summer as they wait for the games to begin. Germany won the World Cup two years ago in Brazil: how will the country fare at the Euro 2016 in France?

To get you ready for the games, we will clue you in on some German soccer terminology. Here's a fun one to start with: Schwalbenkönig.

Schwalbenkoenig Enlarge image (© colourbox.com) The German word Schwalbe means "swallow" and König means "king". So if you translate this term literally, it means "king of the swallows".

But of course, this term doesn't actually refer to the king of a flock of birds. It's a metaphor used in soccer to define a player who repeatedly dives to the ground (like a swallow does in the wild) and acts as though he had been fouled by another player, even if the opponent only touched him slightly or not at all. A Schwalbenkönig overreacts in order to obtain a penalty or free kick. Sometimes, a Schwalbenkönig will get away with his act. Other times, he will gain a reputation.

Schwalbenkoenig Enlarge image (© colourbox.com) A player who intentionally dives to the ground once or twice may be accused of committing a Schwalbe, which in this use means "a dive to the ground", but a repeat offender becomes known for his acts and is thus called the "king of the swallows" - the Schwalbenkönig. That's not a nickname any soccer player wants to have, because next time he falls to the ground, few people will take him seriously.

By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany

© Germany.info

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