If you’re just a casual fan of soccer, you can get away with not knowing any of the terms and abbreviations of the sport.
After all, the only real thing you need to understand is that a goal equals a point. That’s all there is to it, but only up to a point.
If you want to truly know what’s going on, or have a deeper understanding of the game, you need to learn the basic abbreviations.
Some abbreviations are shown frequently, so learning the most basic of them wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
What Does GA, GF, GD, and MP Mean in Football?
These are the terms you are likely to see in a soccer league.
GF – Goals For
GA – Goals Against
GD – Goal Difference
MP – Match Played
For the most part, the meanings of these abbreviations should already give you an idea of their meaning, but that’s counting on you knowing a bit about the sport.
If you’re not that familiar with soccer, even with its meaning, these terms would be a bit confusing.
In turn, we need to discuss how soccer tournaments work. This would give a clearer idea of the meaning of these terms.
Soccer League Table Explanation
Here’s a screenshot of the 2020–21 season of the Premier League. We’ll need this for the explanation.
Source: Premier League
MP is Match Played. This is self-explanatory. It’s the total number of games.
W stands for Win.
D is for Draw.
L is for Loss.
Now, GF is Goals For. This is the total number of goals made by the team. In the table above, Man City has a total of 83 goals for all their 38 games.
GA is Goals Against. This is the total number of goals scored by the opposing team. Using the same table, Man City had a total of 32 goals scored against them.
GD is Goal Difference. This is the total number of goals minus the goals scored against. GF minus GA, basically.
Point Equivalent of Wins, Draws, and Losses
This gets us to the next part—calculating the match points.
We’ll use the same team on the table, Man City, to make things a bit easier to follow.
In the league, a team is awarded 3 points for a win. It doesn’t matter how many goals they score. As long as they win, they get 3 points.
For draws, both the teams get 1 point. The number of goals also doesn’t matter how many points are awarded. A draw would always get both teams 1 point.
As for a loss, that’s equivalent to zero points.
Calculating the Match Points
Calculating the match point is practically just tallying all the scores.
For instance, Man City has 27W = 27×3 = 81 points. 5D = 5×1 = 5 points. That’s 86 points total. This places them well above anyone in the league.
What If Several Teams Have the Same Point Total?
This is actually very common.
In this case, the league will take your GD into account. The team with the higher GD gets higher placement.
Using the same table, you will see two ties. We’ll use the two teams that scored 59 each.
As you can see, Leeds United is placed higher than Everton despite the same point total because Leeds United has 8 GD points. Everton has -1 GD.
What If Several Teams Have the Same Points and GD Total?
In that case, the one with the higher GF would place higher.
In the same table, you can see Newcastle ranking higher than Wolves despite both having 45 points and -16 GD. This is because Newcastle has 46 total goals versus the 36 goals for Wolves.