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.
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 Española, La 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 a 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 the 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 :-P), 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 below 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.
|El/la aficionado/a |
|El campo de fútbol||Soccer field|
|El centro||Cross pass|
|El centrocampista ||Midfielder|
|La Copa del Mundial|
La Copa del Mundo
El Mundial (de fútbol)
|The world Cup|
|La defensa ||Defense|
|La delantera ||Forwads|
|El encuentro||Game (in the USA)|
|El fuera de juego||Offside|
|El golazo||Great goal|
|La Liga de Campeones||Champions League|
|El partido||Game (in the USA)|
|El partido amistoso||Friendly match|
|El penalti||Penalty kick|
|La portería||Goal (posts and net)|
|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|
|Chutar ||To shoot|
|Expulsar||To eject or to throw out|
|Ganar||To win or to beat|
|Hacer falta||To foul|
|Marcar o anotar||To score|
|Regatear||To dribble past|
|¡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 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!|
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.
Have you ever watched a Spanish soccer game? What is your favorite cheer? And your favorite Spanish team?
Leave your answers below, at the comment section below.