Spain is not only a country of fiestas, jamón Serrano, and flamenco. Spanish soccer might be the main reason this Mediterranean country is famous.
The Spanish soccer game is a big part of Spanish culture and by far the most popular sport in Spain. In every souvenir shop in Barcelona, Madrid or Valencia, and even other cities, you will find symbols of the Spain soccer game, such as jersies, or a mug with popular Spanish soccer players.
The culture and the language go hand in hand, so it’s a must that you know something about Spanish soccer. If you are a Spanish soccer teams fan then this is the right place for you to learn some soccer vocabulary.
Spanish Soccer Culture
The National Sport
Without a doubt, soccer is the national sport in Spain. Spaniards are very passionate when it comes to the Spanish soccer game, especially when the national team plays. The entire country can stop for an important game and it will be the only thing that the news talks about for a long time.
There are even tv programs and newspapers that exclusively talk about Spanish soccer. Soccer, soccer, soccer! It seems to be everywhere at any time!
Spanish Soccer and TV
You are in Spain and want to watch a soccer a Spain soccer game? It’s simple, there is always some kind of Spanish soccer game throughout the week. You can choose among La Liga Española, La Liga de Campeones, La Copa de la UEFA, La Copa del Rey… you name it! Also, if you cannot watch a Spain soccer 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 usually watch Spanish soccer at home, in bars, or at the stadium. If they decide to watch a game at home, they may bring friends or family to cheer for their Spanish soccer teams while yelling at the players and referees as if they could hear them. If you could only see that scene!
At bars, people get together to drink and eat something while watching the match, again cheering and yelling at the players and other members of the Spanish soccer teams. You can really feel like you’re at the stadium.
The same thing happens at the actual stadium but maybe with more passion, given that the match is right in front of you. Before the game starts, you can feel the festive environment around you.
People gather at bars to drink and eat while discussing who may win, who deserves to win or the possible score. The stadium is full of excited fans wearing their favorite Spanish soccer teams’ jerseys and carrying flags. During the game, they sing, cheer, and protest against referees and the opposing team.
When it Comes to Important Matches
If the Spanish soccer teams play an important game (like a national team game), usually a giant television screen is placed in the city centers so people can easily watch and support their teams.
Bars and restaurants have much more work than normal. Fans come and do the same they would do in other places: cheer, yell, celebrate goals… The only difference is that, besides the Spanish soccer game, you can also enjoy the nice weather in Spain while watching from the patio.
When the game ends, there is still time to drink or eat something at the bars to celebrate the victory or to cry over a beer about the fact that their team lost.
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 and La Fuente de la Canaletas in Barcelona.
Spanish Soccer Facts You Didn’t Know
1. In Spanish, soccer is fútbol.
2. 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.
3. F. C. Barcelona (also known as Barça) followed by Real Madrid are the teams with the most spectators during games with 38,496 and 35,018 spectators on average respectively according to the data from Statista in the 2019-2020 season.
4. Barça is the world’s most valuable soccer team followed by Real Madrid, according to Deloitte in 2021. If you are a Barça fan, take a look at these jerseys right here. But if you prefer Real Madrid’s, you can buy them by clicking here.
5. There are more Spanish soccer teams besides 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.
6. Real Madrid fans are called merengues, while Barça fans are called blaugranas, azulgrana or culés, and Espanyol fans are called periquitos. Below, you can see the origin of some Spanish soccer teams’ nicknames.
7. Camp Nou (Catalan for New Field), Barça’s soccer stadium, is the largest stadium in Europe and the fourth largest soccer stadium in the world as reported at World Atlas. It can hold around 100,000 spectators!
8. Spaniards call their national team La Roja. You can purchase a Spain national soccer team jersey by clicking here.
9. The Spanish national soccer team won the 2010 World Cup for the first time.
10. The 1982 World Cup took place in Spain.
Origin of Some Spanish Soccer Teams Nicknames
According to the official website of La Liga, the nickname of Madrid fans is merengues because the color of their jerseys is similar to the color of the dessert meringue (or merengue in Spanish).
La Liga’s webpage also states that the name culés, what we today call Barça fans, emerged 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 to sit down on the walls around the stadium.
The first thing a person would see when walking by the stadium was the fans’ butts sitting 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.
Another nickname of Barça fans is blaugrana. This word comes from the Catalan words blau (blue) and granat (deep-red). In Spanish, we translate it as azulgrana.
According to the La Liga website, periquitos became a popular word for Espanyol fans in the 20th century. The nickname comes from the fact that Espanyol used to play at a stadium that used to be frequented by a lot of periquitos (parakeets).
Spanish Soccer Vocabulary
Like the weather and food, Spanish 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 we have put together the most common Spanish soccer game 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|
|La Copa del Mundial|
La Copa del Mundo
El Mundial (de fútbol)
|The world Cup|
|La delantera ||Forwards|
|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|
|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, you need to go to a game, even if you don’t like soccer. Surround yourself and be in the environment at least one time and of course, use the vocabulary that we compiled.
Any kind of cultural activity will help you improve and understand the language better. The more you practice it in the native environment, the better your Spanish will be. But also let’s not forget – a good understanding of the culture will make the language-learning process easier for you.
Now, tell us this:
- Have you ever watched a Spanish soccer game?
- What is your favorite cheer?
- And your favorite Spanish team?
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