In British football, and Britain in general (I infer this from the novel/film Nil By Mouth), nil is the equivalent of the Yank’s nothing. Referring to the local soccer team, the Union, Mike Jensen writes in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer:
Please don’t refer to the score of a Union game as “one-nil” or “a nil-nil draw.” England may have invented soccer, but it hasn’t won the World Cup in 4 1/2 decades and its national team coach is Italian. The rest of the world has moved on. “One-zip” is just fine, or if announcers want to go with soccer’s actual international language, try “uno-cero” or “cero-cero,” since Spain is now ground zero for the real innovation in the sport.
David Friedman will have to clarify this point, but my impression is that the most commonly heard form is this one (taken from the website of Central Michigan University Chippewas): “Despite a nil-nil draw, Stafford believes his team continued to improve.”
Is it possible that nil and other British football terms will migrate to American sport? Will supporters gathering to cheer their side as they battle on the pitch? At the end of the day, what will be will be.