Sports Translation Blunders: The Funniest Miscommunications in International Athletics

With so many languages spoken all over the world, a translator is often needed to help us understand each other. This is even more important in the world of sports where all of the teams and athletes come from different parts of the globe. It can be very easy for things to get lost in translation or worse, have difficulty translating certain phrases and idioms to convey the proper meaning.

You may encounter these issues when you travel to a foreign country, but you might notice that this also happens in sports. Interviewers and translators as well as the athletes themselves fumble the words that result in hilarious encounters with one another.

Here are some of the sports translation blunders that make the funniest miscommunications among international athletes.

Sports Translation Blunders: The Funniest Miscommunications in International Athletics
Image Source: Manchester Evening News

Why is Translation Important in Sports?

Not everyone can speak English, which is regarded as the universal language that everyone expects to understand in a basic manner. 

Sports Translation Blunders: The Funniest Miscommunications in International Athletics
Image Source: BBJ World / YouTube

This is why translation is done mostly in English for everyone to understand. Translation is quite important as it allows for the faster spread of information and ideas. 

It is also necessary for effective communication, especially between two very different languages. Translation plays a huge role, especially in sports where different nationalities with varying languages want to communicate with each other. 

Translation mishaps can have serious consequences but in the world of sports, it is usually given a leeway.


Interviews in Different Languages

In the world of sports, interviews are done in different languages, and translators are hired to help get the word across using their own language. 

This is quite imperative during interviews held in another language wherein one would want to gain insight. Of course, translation doesn't always happen accurately, which can end up in very hilarious ways. 

Fortunately, many of these athletes know how hard it is to understand and then translate one language to another hence they don't take it as an offense. They would rather embrace the humor of miscommunication.


Belgian Football vs. Scottish Team

Who knew that a single word that is translated inaccurately could lead to a tense tirade between two teams within the football scene?

Sports Translation Blunders: The Funniest Miscommunications in International Athletics
Image Source: The Guardian

During an interview, the Belgian football team was asked about their next match against the Scottish team, and the word "eventueel" was mistranslated which meant potentially and not eventually. 

This meant a great deal to the opposing team who was poised to qualify for the next round. This translation mishap caused the Scottish team to feel that their opponents were quite arrogant. 

It wasn't later on that the entire conversation was all about the Belgian team inviting them for a drink after a possible qualification.

Gary Neville Helps a Young But Awkward Cristiano Ronaldo

We all know the confident Cristiano Ronaldo as a football superstar that he is today but it wasn't always that way. 

When he was first starting in the world of football, Ronaldo was a very shy and timid player who only knew a few English words. 

In an interview he did with Gary Neville, then-18-year-old Cristiano was asked about his performance and his thoughts on the game. 

He answered quite well in English talking about how he performed. He was then asked if he was confident with his skills moving forward, the interview turned into an awkward one with Neville stepping in to answer the rest of the interview for him.

Manny Pacquiao with the Funniest Translator

Manny Pacquiao is known to have a very cool and calm demeanor during his pre-fight interviews. He does interviews using as much English as possible while remaining humble. 

During his interview for a match against Adrien Broner, Pacquiao was asked about how he would deal with his opponent. 

The Filipino boxer mentioned that he trained hard and it was very easy to say that he could be defeated but it would be very difficult for his opponent to do it in reality. Things escalated rather quickly when his translator sprinkled a few words on his behalf. 

He'd mention that Pacquiao meant to beat his opponent rather aggressively and much to everyone's surprise, Pacquiao remained humble for the entire interview apart from his rowdy translator.

Jurgen Klopp's Translator Forgets His Job

Football often has a plethora of teams from different countries that speak varying languages. This often happens during press conferences and interviews. 

When asked about his team, the Liverpool manager provided the usual answer regarding the team's preparation for an upcoming match. His answers were quite heavy-hitting and were long enough for the translator. 

After he delivered his answer, he had some time to extend the conversation. He was able to express his thoughts thoroughly then there was an awkward pause between him and his Spanish translator. 

Klopp signaled that he needed to translate what he said into Spanish but instead, the translator spoke in English and later caught his mistakes mid-sentence and smoothly transitioned to a Spanish translation. It was both funny and cool at the same time.  

Mauricio Pochettino Gets Lost in Translation

During a press conference, Argentine Mauricio Pochettino was asked about their match against Barcelona at the time, so an English translator was required. 

Sports Translation Blunders: The Funniest Miscommunications in International Athletics
Image Source: Sky Sports

As the question was translated, Pochettino was able to get hold of a mistranslation when many people were pulling faces with the translation. 

Ponchettino then had to correct the entire translation saying that the goalkeeper is one of the most important roles in the team and needs to be recognized as well. 

This drew laughter from both the media and the translator herself. Pochettino then approached the lady translator after the press conference and shook her hand to acknowledge how difficult her job is in translating different languages.


There are a lot of factors as to why many sports interviews and conversations get lost in translation, such as grammatical differences and idiomatic expressions. The good thing is that many of these athletes and other sports personalities understand how difficult it is to translate everything accurately. Oftentimes, these conversations can lead to hilarious outcomes in sports, which only brings people closer together.

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