Spanish Soccer - Culture, Facts and Vocabulary

Spanish Soccer

Soccer is a big part of Spain and by far the most popular sport: it is part of the culture. Given that culture and language always go hand in hand, if you are planning on learning Spanish, you also need to learn about Spanish soccer. Here, you are going to find culture, facts, and vocabulary related to soccer that is found there.

Spanish Soccer Culture

THE NATIONAL SPORT

It can be said that soccer is the national sport of Spain without a doubt. For example, the entire country can stop for an important game and all the news does nothing but talk about the game. There are even news programs and newspapers that exclusively talk about soccer. Soccer seems to be everywhere at any time.

SOCCER AND TV

Do you want to watch a soccer game in Spain? It is simple, there is always some kind of match throughout the week. You can choose among La Liga EspañolaLa Liga de Campeones, La Copa de la UEFA, La Copa del Rey… Also, if you are not able to watch a game for any reason, don’t worry, the replay or at least the best plays will be on television soon.

HOW DO SPANIARDS WATCH SOCCER?

People normally watch the games at home, at bars, or at the stadiums. If they decide to watch a game at home, they may bring friends or family to cheer for their teams while yelling at the players and referees like if they could hear them. At bars, people gather together to drink and/or eat something while watching the game with cheering and yelling included. In reality, it can feel like actually being at the stadium.

At a stadium, before a game starts, you can feel the festive environment around. Before the game, people gather at bars to drink and eat something while discussing topics like who may win, who deserves to win, or the possible score. When the game starts, the stadium is full of excited people wearing their favorite soccer jerseys and carrying flags. During the game, fans sing, cheer and protests referees and the opponent team.

WHEN THEY PLAY IMPORTANT GAMES

If they play an important game (like a national team game) they usually place giant television screens in city centers so people can easily watch and support the teams. Also, bars and restaurants usually will do the same, in this way, people can drink and eat outside and watch soccer. Fans here do the same as in other places: cheer, yell, celebrate goals… The only difference is that you can also enjoy the nice weather of Spain.

When the game ends, there is still time to drink or eat something at the bars to celebrate the victory. However, if the victory is a historic one or against an eternal rival (such as Real Madrid 😛 ), fans go to symbolic places to celebrate. Among these places are: La Fuente de Cibeles in Madrid or La Fuente de la Canaletas in Barcelona.

Spanish Soccer Facts

1.- In Spanish, soccer is fútbol. 

2.- Soccer is the sport with the most registered players (942,674), and the most registered clubs (20,588) among all Spanish sport federations, according to the data from Spain’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (Spain) in 2016.

4.- La Liga, also known as La Primera División, is the men’s top professional soccer league in Spain and one of the most important in the world. Unlike the USA leagues, teams that are part of La Liga can be relegated to the second league. Also, teams from the second league can get promoted to La Liga.

5.- Barcelona (also known as Barça) followed by Real Madrid are the teams with the most spectators during games with 49,602 and 48,020 of spectators on average respectively according to the data from Statista in 2017-2018 season.

6.- Real Madrid and Barça are among the world’s most valuable soccer teams according to Forbes in 2018.

7.- There are more teams beside Real Madrid and Barça that are part of La Liga. There are 20 teams in total, including: Atlético de Bilbao, Atlético de Madrid, Valencia, Real Sociedad, and Espanyol.

8.- Real Madrid fans are called “merengues“, Barça fans are called  “blaugranas, “azulgrana” or “culés”, and Epanyol fans are called “periquitos”. (See Origin of Some Spanish Soccer Teams Nicknames).

9.- Camp Nou (Catalan for New Field), which is Barça soccer stadium, is the largest stadium in Europe and the second largest soccer stadium in the world as reported at World Atlas. It can hold around 100,000 spectators.

10.- Spaniards call their national team La Roja.

11.- The Spanish national soccer team won the 2010 World Cup for the first time.

12.- The 1982 World Cup  was held in Spain.

ORIGIN OF SOME SPANISH SOCCER TEAMS NICKNAMES

According to the official La Liga website, the nickname of Madrid fans are “merengues” because the color of their jerseys is similar to the color of the dessert meringue (or merengue in Spanish).

The La Liga website also states that for Barça fans, people started using the nickname “culés” in the 20 century. The stands of the stadium where Barça used to play couldn’t hold all the fans. Because of this, some of the fans used sit down on the walls around the stadium. For this reason, the first thing a person would see when walking by the stadium was the fans sitting with their butts on the walls. Due to this, Barça fans were known as “culers”, which is pronounced as “culés”. This word comes from the Catalan word cul, which means butt in English.

Another nickname of Barça fans is “blaugrana”. This word comes from the Catalan words blau (blue) and granat (deep-red). In Spanish, it is translated as “azulgrana”.

The La Liga site also explains that “Periquitos” became a popular word for Espanyol fans in the 20 century. The nickname comes from the fact that Espanyol used to play at a stadium which used to be frequented by a lot of periquitos (parakeets).

Spanish Soccer Vocabulary

The same as weather and food, soccer can be a common topic for conversations (for those who like it, of course!). Thus, if you ever go to Spain, you will usually hear people talking about it. That is why I put together the most common soccer vocabulary used in Spain. It will help you understand everyday conversation topics. Find here nouns, verbs and expressions related to soccer.

NOUNS

SpanishEnglish
El/la aficionado/a
El/la hincha
El/la seguidor/a
Fan
El árbitro
Referee
El balón
La pelota
Ball
El banquillo
Bench
El campo de fútbol
Soccer field
El capitán
Capitan
El centro
Cross pass
El centrocampista
Midfielder
El córner
Corner
La copa
Cup
La Copa del Mundial
La Copa del Mundo
El Mundial (de fútbol)
The world Cup
El/la defensa
Defender
El/la delantero/a
Forward
La defensa
Defense
La delantera
Forwads
El encuentro
Game (in the USA)
La entrada
Tackle
El/la entrenador/a
Coach
El estadio
Stadium
El/la extremo
Winger
La falta
Foul
El fuera de juego
Offside
El gol
Goal
El golazo
Great goal
El/la jugador/a
Player
La liga
League
La Liga de Campeones
Champions League
El partido
Game (in the USA)
El partido amistoso
Friendly match
El pase
Pass
El penalti
Penalty kick
La portería
Goal (posts and net)
El/la portero/a
Goalie
El saque de esquina
Corner kick
La tanda de penaltis
Penalty shoot-out
La tarjeta amarilla
Yellow card
La tarjeta roja
Red card
El tiempo extra
Overtime
La victoria
Victory

VERBS

SpanishEnglish
Atacar
To attack
Bloquear
To block
Centrar
To center
Chutar
To shoot
Contraatacar
To counterattack
Defender
To defend
Derrotar
To defeat
Empatar
To tie
Expulsar
To eject or to throw out
Ganar
To win or to beat
Hacer falta
To foul
Interceptar
To block
Jugar
To play
Marcar o anotar
To score
Pasar
To pass
Pitar
To whistle
Regatear
To dribble past
Vencer
To defeat

EXPRESSIONS

SpanishEnglish
¡A por ellos, oé!
Let’s beat them!
Creo que ganarán
I think they will win
Deberían ganar
They should win
Deberían haber ganado
They should have won
Espero que ganen
I hope they win
No creo que ganen
I don't think they will win
¡Qué golazo!
¡Qué pedazo de gol!
What a great goal!
¡Qué parada!
What a save!
¡Qué pase!
What a pass!
¡Roja y a la calle!
Literal translation: Red (meaning red card) and to the street!
Translation: To be ejected
¡Yo soy español, español, español!
I’m Spanish, Spanish, Spanish!
¡Vamos a ganar!
We are going to win!

Final thoughts

If you want to experience an important part of Spanish culture go to a game, even if you do not like soccer. Surround yourself in the environment at least for one time and of course, use the vocabulary of this post  😉 Any kind of cultural activity will help you improve and understand the language better. Culture and language go together, a good understanding of the culture will make the language learning process easier for you.

 

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