Literally: “swallow!“ / meaning: a dive (in soccer)
For other nations, soccer is a game of physical elegance and athletic artistry. For Germans, Fußball is basically 22 men working their butts off. Most people of the Federal Republic are convinced that all their 4 world cup trophies are the result of the so-called “German virtues“: diligence, discipline and a sense of duty. With this performance-oriented understanding of sport, it is clear that a player who tries to gain an unfair advantage is punished with particular condemnation. This is especially true for someone who does a Schwalbe: that is, lets himself fall down without being touched by the opponent.
The expression refers to the posture of a footballer who drops with the intent of cheating. The widely outstretched arms and slightly spread legs are reminiscent of the long, narrow wings and forked tail of the eponymous bird. In addition, swallows tend to fly low over the terrain, just like famous Schwalbenkönige (“swallow kings”) like Andreas Möller, Francesco Totti or Bernd Hölzenbein.
The latter’s particularly theatrical flying maneuver in the 1974 World Cup final caused the word Schwalbe to even enter the Dutch language. This word is all they got from us in this game 😉