Are you an American* watching fútbol in Mexico? Wishing you were watching football instead?
Perhaps procuring a little bit of Spanish slang will help you experience some of the excitement that defines this sport worldwide. It’s easy! You don’t have to lie to your wife and fly to Russia in order to be overwhelmed by the dedication and passion of soccer fans. This little starter chart is free!
During the World Cup this summer I decided to root for the opposing team because I was born in Germany. But mostly because watching any sport with rivalry is more fun. But German ancestry aside, since I don’t really have a dog in any soccer fight I wore one of my UO football shirts.
In an astounding opening to the 2018 World Cup Mexico beat Germany — the 2014 world champions. And the reaction around the country supposedly registered on the Richter scale. That is to say that Mexicans love soccer so much their enthusiasm is literally seismic. Or so we thought. The US Geological Survey isn’t so sure but the possibility is definitely amusing. But not as amusing as watching true soccer fans watch soccer.
Before we begin let’s get a quick list of basic soccer terms out of the way so we can focus on the good stuff: portero means goalie, penal is indeed a penalty, striker is delantero, cancha is soccer field and arbitro is the ref.
If you are a foreign guest in the home of Mexican soccer fans, an Oxxo is (almost certainly) right around the corner. So grab a Tecate and get your reading glasses if you need them. I’ve curated this list of slang just for you, harvested during the 2018 World Cup, the Rayados regular season and La Seleccion Mexicana.
And remember, just like in English, slang is regional. Slang also varies within families and friend groups as much as it does in different countries. This includes inside jokes, which I learned are called chistes locales. There are 2o countries that recognize Spanish as their official language or one of their official languages but remember that there are no hard and fast rules. You can still sound ridiculous if you try to use new slang without learning the context. This is a listening guide — NOT a speaking guide. Literal translations won’t help you understand how or why or when to say which things. That takes a lot more time and context than a soccer game or two — even if they can feel like a long time!
It’s fun enough but I will likely never get to the wearing-tiny-sombreros-over-my-boobs level or even the painting-my-half-naked-body-to-look-like-a-jersey level of super fandom. But I can learn to enjoy it from the comfort of any couch while I wear my college football clothes, or at least learn a little bit more about what everyone else is loving and hating during a game.
And if you’re still perplexed by the global appeal of this sport, perhaps you’d like to borrow my copy of How Soccer Explains the World. Full disclosure: I haven’t read it yet. I was too busy watching the Rayados advance to the semi-finals.
*Since we don’t have a word in English to specify which of the American countries, let’s use estadounidense from now on.
Originally published at heathermedwards.com.