Meaning of GA, GF, GD, and Other Common Football Abbreviations

Updated on July 24, 2018
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Januaris is a freelance sports writer and soccer analyst. He specializes in football news and after-match analysis for sports portals.

According to my own observations, most soccer enthusiasts find it hard to understand football abbreviations and acronyms, especially the ones found in soccer league and World Cup tables. Almost all new football fans cannot understand the tables fully without consulting experienced soccer fans or getting assistance from the Internet.

This article is about football abbreviations and acronyms and what they stand for. Read on to know the full meaning of GA, GF, GD, MP, FC, FIFA, Caps, Apps, VAR, and other terms.

Examples Of Football League Tables
Examples Of Football League Tables | Source

What Does GA, GF, GD, and MP Mean in Football?

In brief, GA, GF, GD, and MP stand for Goals Against, Goals For, Goal Difference, and Matches Played respectively. Other common terms like Apps and Caps mean Appearances (both), which are the number of times a player has played for their country (or club) or participated in a competition.

Soccer Table Abbreviations and Their Meaning

  • P, Pld – Played (i.e., number of matches or games played by a team).
  • MP – Matches Played (sometimes used in place of P, Pld).
  • W – Won (i.e., number of matches won).
  • D – Draw (i.e., number of times a team has finished a match with an even score or tie).
  • L – Loss (i.e., number of matches lost).
  • GS – Goals Scored
  • F, GF – Goals For (sometimes used in place of GS).
  • A, GA – Goals Against (i.e., number of goals conceded by a team).
  • GD – Goal Difference (i.e., difference between GF and GA, and sometimes denoted by +/-). According to the tables above, team B would win under the goal difference criterion.
  • PD – Points Difference (i.e., difference between GF and GA, and sometimes used in place of GD).
  • GAvg – Goal Average (i.e., GF divided by GA). According to the tables above, team A would win under the goal average criterion.
  • GR – Goal Ratio (i.e., GF divided by GA, and sometimes used in place of GAvg).
  • Pos – Position (sometimes denoted by #).
  • Pts – Points (i.e., total number of points earned by a team after playing a certain number of games). A team is awarded 3 points after winning a match or one point if the game ends as a draw or tie.

Brief Analysis of a Football League Table

Teams belonging to a certain league are ranked based on their total number of points and goal difference. This means that the team at the top of the table has the highest number of points while the team at the bottom has the lowest number of points.

If two teams have the same number of points, they are ranked based on the goal difference. The team with a superior goal difference is ranked on top of the other. If it happens that the two teams have the same number of points and same goal difference, the goals for (GF) or head-to-head performance is used to separate the two teams. Concerning the head-to-head performance, the team that scored more goals when the two teams met (home and away) gets a higher ranking.

In case you are new to football leagues, most leagues feature 10-20 teams. Considering the English Premier League has 20 member clubs, each team has to play 38 games (home and away matches) before the season ends. The total number of games played in the league per season is 380 and the maximum number of points a team can earn is 114.

2016-2017 EPL Table - Final Standings
2016-2017 EPL Table - Final Standings | Source

The table above shows Chelsea Football Club as the winners of the 2016/2017 English Premier League title. They finished the season with 93 points having won 30 matches, drawn three, and lost five. They scored 85 goals and conceded 33 which gave a goal difference of 52.

At the bottom side, Sunderland Football Club finished with 24 points after winning only six games, drawing six, and losing as many as 26. Their GF, GA, and GD were 29, 69, and -40 respectively.

In most leagues, the last three teams are relegated to a lower league division and are replaced by the top three teams from the lower division. For example, Sunderland FC, Middleborough FC, and Hull City FC were relegated and replaced by Newcastle FC, Brighton FC, and Huddersfield Town FC (play-offs winners) from the EFL Championship division.

The top teams in the major leagues qualify for major competitions. For example, Chelsea FC, Tottenham FC, Manchester City FC, and Liverpool FC qualified for the 2017/2018 European Champions League. The fifth, sixth, and seventh placed teams, which were Arsenal FC, Manchester United FC, and Everton, qualified for the Europa League, but Man United FC qualified for the Champions League after winning the 2016/2017 Europa League.

Association Football Plays and Technique Abbreviations and Acronyms

M – Marker (i.e., man-to-man coverage).
V – Volley (i.e., mid-air kick).
BH – Back Heel (i.e., when the ball is kicked using heel).
BK – Bicycle Kick (i.e., kicking the ball backward over the head).
Ca – Counterattack
CK – Corner Kick
DR – Dummy Run (i.e., running without the ball).
FK – Free Kick
GG – Give and Go (also denoted by 1-2).
In – Inswinger (i.e., curving kick).
OT – Offside Trap (i.e., putting attacking players in an offside position).
OG – Own Goal
OS – Out Swinger (i.e., kick that moves away from the goal).
PK – Penalty Kick
ST – Sliding Tackle
TI – Throw In
ZD – Zone Defense (i.e., area occupied by defenders).
BTB – Bending the Ball (i.e., causing the ball to follow a curved path).
MMM – Man-to-Man Marking
OTP – One-Touch Pass
TTB – Trapping the Ball (i.e., controlling the ball).

Player and Team Member Abbreviations

N – Neutral
AC – Assistant Coach
AF – Advanced Forward
BC – Ball Carrier (i.e., player possessing the ball).
CD – Central Defender
CM – Central Midfielder
GT – Goaltender (i.e., goalkeeper).
LM – Linesman (i.e., assistance referee).
RB – Right-Back
TM – Target Man
CPT – Captain
DMf – Defensive Midfielder
HMf – Holding Midfielder (i.e., player who plays in the front of the central defenders).
BTBMf – Box-to-Box Midfielder
 

League and Match-Related Abbreviations and Acronyms

U – Unofficial
AD – Away Draw
AL – Away Loss
AT – Added Time
AW – Away Win
BS – Beach Soccer
DB – Dead Ball (i.e., when there is no play and the ball isn't moving).
ET – Extra Time
Fr – Friendly
HA – Home and Away
Ko – Kickoff (i.e., starting of the game).
NT – National Team
PR - Positions Roles
QF – Quarter-Final
SF – Semi-Final
TO – Timeout
WC – World Cup
AET – After Extra Time
BIP – Ball In Play (i.e., when the ball is within the playing field).
DFK – Direct Free Kick
DEF – Defense
FFB – Fifty-Fifty Ball (i.e., when opposing players cause equal impact on each other when going for the ball).
HTH – Head-to-Head
IFK – Indirect Free Kick
OFF – Offside
OTM – Overtime Minutes
MIN – Minutes
PSO – Penalty Shootout
Sub – Substitution
BOOP – Ball Out Of Play (i.e., when the ball is out of the playing field).
Disc – Discipline
Mins – Minutes
 

Soccer Stats Abbreviations

SA – Save Average
PT – Prediction Table
LT – Livescore Table
Av – Average
AS – Aggregate Score (i.e., sum of home and away goals).
SG – Shots on Goal
Sh – Shots
PG – Penalty Kick Goals
SR – Save Ratio
TS – Top Scorer
App (Apps) – Appearances (i.e., number of times a player appears for matches in a competition).
Blk – Blocked (i.e., Blocked shots).
FSL – Football Scoring List
FTS – Failed to Score
GAA – Goals Allowed Average
GWA – Game Winning Assist
GWG – Game Winning Goal
Hat – Hat Trick (also denoted by HT, see above).
OTL – Overtime Losses
OTW – Overtime Wins
MPK – Missed Penalty Kick
Pct – Shooting Percentage (i.e., goals scored per shot on the goal).
PKS – Penalty Kicks Saves
Rsl, Res – Result
SHO – Shutouts (i.e., given to the winning team if the opponents didn't score).
SOG – Shots on Goal
SOT – Shots on Target (sometimes used in place of SOG).
Stl – Steals (i.e., number of times a player has seized a ball from the opponent).
Caps – Appearances (i.e., number of times a player has played for their country).
SPct – Save Shooting Percentage

Other Soccer Abbreviations and Acronyms

Soccer Officiating and Referee-Related Abbreviations

  • E - Elimination, Expulsion (i.e., referee uses red card to dismiss players).
  • BW – Blow Whistle
  • EJ – Ejections (i.e., number of red-carded players in a match or league).
  • RC – Red Card
  • YC – Yellow Card
  • VAR – Video Assistant Referees
  • MO – Match Official

Soccer Field and Object-Related Abbreviations

  • GL – Goal Line
  • GM – Goal Mouth (i.e., area closest to the goal).
  • TL – Touch Line (i.e., outside edge of the field).
  • J – Jersey
  • Cb – Crossbar (i.e., a bar connecting goalposts).
  • Np – Nearpost (i.e., goalpost nearest the ball).
  • VF – Vanishing Foam (i.e., marker for free kicks).
  • GLT – Goal-Line Technology

Soccer Business Abbreviations

  • SI – Sports Interactive
  • SS – Shirt Sponsor
  • JD – Jersey Designer
  • AM – Assistant Manager
  • FM – Football Manager
  • TD – Team Doctor
  • TF – Transfer Fee (i.e., selling price of a player).
  • TN – Team Name
  • TW – Transfer Window

Soccer Award Abbreviations

  • CC – Club of the Century
  • DA – Development Award
  • FA – Fan Award
  • FW – FIFPro World11
  • BMC – Best Men's Coach
  • BMP – Best Men's Player
  • BWC – Best Women's Coach
  • BWP – Best Women's Player
  • COTM – Coach of the Month
  • POTC – Player of the Century
  • POTM – Player of the Match, Player of the Month
  • WCDT – World Cup Dream Team
  • WCATM – World Cup All-Time Team
  • WCOTY – World Coach of the Year
  • WPOTY – World Player of the Year

Soccer Abbreviations with Multiple Meanings

A – Attack, Attacker, Assists
B – Back, Boots, Booter (i.e., kicker), Brace (i.e., one player scoring two goals), Box (i.e., rectangular area near the goal).
C – Center/Central, Corner, Cross, Coach, Clear (i.e., kick the ball out of the dangerous zone), Caution (i.e., referee uses yellow card to warn players).
D – Defender, Dribble
F – Forward, Foul, Field, Final
G – Goal, Guard, Gloves
H – Home, Header, Head (i.e., kick with head).
I – Inside, Injury
K – Kick, Kicker
O – Outside, Offside, Obstruction (i.e., blocking opponent).
P – Penalty, Pitch, Period, Promotion, Possession, Punt (i.e., long pass towering in the air).
R – Right, Referee, Relegation
S – Suspension, Sponsor, Stands, Shot, Striker, Statistics, Save (i.e., done by goalkeeper to avoid conceding), Sweeper (i.e., player who kicks the ball to eliminate threat).
T – Tackle, Ticket, Ties, Time
W – Winger, Whistle
AB, AM – Abandoned Match, Armband
AR – Assistant Referee, Advantage Rule (i.e., foul but the game doesn't stop).
BP – Back Pass, Ball Possession
CP – Catches and Punches (i.e., used by goalkeeper on the ball to prevent conceding), Center Spot (i.e., kickoff place at the center of the field).
CS – Community Shield, Clean Sheets (I.e., for goalkeeper when he hasn’t been scored against).
FC – Fouls Committed, Football Club, Football Coach, Center Forward
FP – Far Post (i.e., goalpost furthest from the ball), Football Positions.
FS – Fouls Suffered, Fouls Sustained, Full Squad, Futsal (i.e., indoor football).
FT – Fullback, Full Time
GA – Goal Area, Goals Allowed, Goals Attempted
GK – Goalkeeper, Goal Kick
GP – Games Played, Goal Post
GS – Games Started, Group Stages, Goal Scorer
HB – Halfback, Hand Ball (i.e., ball coming into contact with the hand which is also an offense).
HT – Half Time, Hat-Trick (i.e., one player scoring three goals).
LB – Left-Back, Loose Ball (i.e., when two opposing players are eligible to get the ball).
Mf – Midfield, Midfielder
PA – Puskás Award, Penalty Kick Attempts
PO – Penalty Spot, Playoff
SB – Score Board, Substitute
SL – Scoreline (i.e., match results being shown on a screen), Sideline (i.e., field border).
SK – Scissor Kick (i.e., kicking the ball forward while jumping up in the air), Spot-Kick (i.e., penalty kick).
TP – Through Pass, Team Physician, Toe Poke (i.e., kicking with the toe).
VS – Versus, Vanishing Spray (i.e., marker for free kicks).
WP – Wide Play, Wide Player (i.e., wingers and fullbacks), Wall-Pass (i.e., give the ball and go).
CF – Center-Forward, Corner Flag (i.e., flags placed at the four corners of the field).
 

Football Associations' Abbreviations and Acronyms

BC – British Championship (i.e., a tournament).
D2 – Division 2
FA – The Football Association
FC – Football Club
IL – International League
MC – Major Cup
MT – Major Tournament
VI – Victory International
WI – Wartime International
AFC – Asian Football Confederation
EPL – English Premier League
FPA – Fair Play Award
FPC – Female Player of the Century
ICC – International Champions Cup
CAF – Confederation Africaine de Football
CFA – Chinese Football Association
CSA – Canadian Soccer League
CSL – Canadian Soccer League
ECF – European Championship Final (i.e., a tournament).
ECP – European Championship Preliminary (i.e., a competition).
EFL – English Football League
FUR – Football Union of Russia
ICC – International Champions Cup
MSL – Major Soccer League
NCS – National Championship Series
ODP – Olympic Development Program
OFC – Oceania Football Confederation
PDL – Premier Development League
PDL – Professional Development League
PDP – Player Development Program
PLS – Premier League Soccer
PSL – Premier Soccer League
PRO – Professional Referee Organization
SAC – South American Championship (i.e., finals tournament, also known as Copa América).
SPI – Soccer Power Index
TFC – The Football Confederation
TOA – Team Owners Association
TSE – Total Sports Experience
UEL – UEFA Europa League
UCL – UEFA Champions League
USA – United Soccer Association
USC – UEFA Super Cup
USL – United Soccer Leagues
WCF – World Cup Final (i.e., a tournament).
WCP – World Cup Preliminary (i.e., a competition).
WPS – Women’s Professional Soccer
WSF – Women’s Soccer Federation
APSL – American Professional Soccer League
AYSO – American Youth Soccer Organization
CISL – Continental Indoor Soccer League
ECNL – Elite Clubs National League
FCWC – FIFA Club World Cup
FFPS – Fun-Fair-Positive Soccer
FIFA – Fédération International de Football Association
FIRA – Federation of International Robot-soccer Association
ITSF – International Table Soccer Federation
LTPD – Long-Term Player Development
MISL – Major Indoor Soccer League
MUFC – Manchester United Football Club
NASL – North American Soccer League
NCSL – National Capital Soccer League
NPSL – National Professional Soccer League
NWSL – National Women’s Soccer League
SAFA – South African Football Association
UEFA – Union des Associations Européenes de Football
USFA – United States Football Association
USSF – United States Soccer Federation
WISL – World Indoor Soccer League
WPSL – Women’s Premier Soccer League
WUSA – Women’s United Soccer Association
CMISL – Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League
NSCAA – National Soccer Coaches Association of America
USASA – United States Adult Soccer Association
CONCACAF – Confederation of North, American and Caribbean Association Football
CONMEBOL – Confederación Sudamericana de Fūtbol
FIFA - The International Body That Governs Football.
FIFA - The International Body That Governs Football. | Source

Conclusion

Abbreviations and acronyms are quite prevalent in the world of FIFA soccer, but these are the most common ones. All countries in the world have sports associations, and all the associations' names are abbreviated. So there are definitely thousands of sports-related abbreviations and acronyms out there.

Have you been finding it hard to understand football league tables?

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If yes, do you think now you can understand the tables with much ease?

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If you have some soccer abbreviations and synonyms not listed here, you can add them in the comments section below!

References

  • Mak K. "An Idiots Guide to Soccer and Soccer Gaming - Strategy Guide". operationsports.com. Operation Sports. (2012).
  • Donaovon L. "Beginners Guide to Soccer". ussoccerplayers.com. US Soccer Players (2017).
  • Jake D. "How to Play Soccer - Soccer Guide". completesoccerguide.com. The Complete Soccer Guide. (2015).
  • Amarikwa Q. "7 Essential Soccer Tips for Beginners". perfectsoccerskills.com. Perfect Soccer. (2016).
  • Ominsky D., Harari P.J. "Football Made Simple: A Spectator's Guide". Book. First Base Sports, Inc. (1994).
  • Nelson D. M. "Anatomy of a Game: Football, the Rules, and the Men Who Made the Game". Book. Associated University Presses. Newark. University of Delaware Press. (1996).

Questions & Answers

  • How many substitutes are allowed in football?

    Three, but there is a new rule that allows a fourth substitute in extra time (the additional 30 minutes). It is now applicable in world cup. I don't know if it will be applicable in league games.

  • What does it mean that the three teams will be replaced? Will these teams go to other leagues?

    This means that they will go to lower leagues in the same country.

  • What if a team won by default? how will you wrote it on the board?

    It's still going to be W or W/O, W.O (walkover).

© 2017 Januaris Saint Fores

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