Language in Sports: International Communication at an Organizational Level

In our past couple of articles, we’ve talked about methods of communication in both European and world football, but focusing on what happens on the field, most importantly at the peak of competition. At a tournament like the FIFA Word Cup, where people from all over the world come together to play, watch, officiate, and otherwise enjoy football, the language barrier can prove a real issue, including for communication between players and coaches, and interactions with the referee.

The World Cup, a month-long tournament held once every four years, is the crown jewel event for FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the governing body of world football). But during the three years and eleven months in between, FIFA itself has a wide range of linguistic challenges to address. As the governing body of the world’s most popular sport, the organization has a huge number of people — and languages — to accommodate, all over the world. As such, FIFA has its own language services department, to deal with this demand for language accommodation. FIFA has four official languages — English, Spanish, French, and German — so the majority of its documentation needs to be made available in all four of these languages, and many things need to be translated into other languages as well. In all, FIFA’s language services department translates around three million words per year.

Accessibility for international audiences is an issue not only for world football, but for other sports as well. We’ve also talked previously about language and communication issues in Major League Baseball (MLB). Baseball, while not as globally ubiquitous as football, is growing internationally, and has been for many years. Today, it is a hugely popular sport in Central America and the Caribbean, as well as much of eastern Asia, and its popularity is ever-expanding throughout the world. In order to promote and enhance this expansion in popularity, MLB formed a division of its company called MLB International (MLBI). The main function of MLBI is to broadcast Major League Baseball’s games around the world: through its partnerships with foreign affiliates, MLB International broadcasts baseball to over 200 countries, in 17 different languages. MLBI also organizes baseball-related programs and events around the world in order to promote the sport.

We can see that questions of communication and language support are integral in sports, not only at the on-field level, but also at an organizational level. FIFA and MLB both dedicate extensive resources to ensure that their product — that is to say, their sport — is available to, and understandable to, a large international audience. If you’re looking for resources to help your product reach an international audience, turn to Trusted Translations’ multilingual advisers, who will tailor a solution just right for your target audience.