After spending 9 months in Argentina I found myself back in the United States during the entire 2014 World Cup.
While I desperately wished I could have stayed in Argentina to soak up the World Cup spirit, family matters dictated that I return to my motherland. Those thoughts only intensified when Argentina nearly won the whole thing.
Being back in the US where soccer might not even crack the top 5 most popular sports was a culture shock in and of itself. But watching ever single World Cup game (great time to be unemployed) from the USA gave me a perspective into why soccer is more exciting in Latin America.
Here’s what I think.
The way that soccer is announced in Spanish makes it a more interesting game.
This is certainly no knock on any English speaking sports broadcaster. But the Spanish language is much better suited to call soccer games. The language fills the lull that sometimes present in the game of soccer and then explodes during moments of greatness far surpassing the passion that English speaking broadcasters bring to the game.
The passion that the people have for the game is reflected in its broadcasters and the Spanish language gives them the ability to exude that passion.
Consider this example.
Argentina is playing Switzerland in the first game of the knockout round. Given the game’s proximity to Argentina thousands of their fans are in attendance and their is palpable pressure for the team to perform well. Since Brazil and Argentina are rivals the Brazilian fans have sided with Switzerland. With the score tied 0-0 and barely anytime remaining in extra time (118th minute) Messi starts one of his trademark darting runs. While driving at the Swiss defense he passes the ball wide to Angel Di Maria who strikes it into the goal, calmly and cooly for his first goal of the entire World Cup despite being an amazing player.
Side note – There’s so much debate over whether Messi is the best player ever. Is the best? I have no idea but this play is good.
First, have a listen to the English version (the goal starts at 1:07 in the video – sorry only video I could find) – English Video
Transcript – Here’s Messi. He could change everything in the blink of an eye. Messi, on it goes, the shot is on! Di Maria has done it. Messi the man who made it happen. Angel Di Maria with an absolutely devine moment for Argentina.
Now have a listen to the Spanish version (audio only) —
The United States has nothing that compares to that. I’ve never heard an announcer bring this much passion and creativity into a sports call. The lengths to which Alejandro Fantino goes to describe this goal is incredible. I think the tension of the game, the beauty of the moment, and his passion for the sport got the best of him and he goes a little crazy. I mean at the end he yells – “I’ve got the Pope! You’ve got nothing!” Hahaha amazing.
But besides the craziness of the words just compare the passion in the voice to that of the English announcer. Nada que ver!
Transcript (pretty sure this is right. I listened it at least 7 times) – Messi, se enchufa Messi. Va Messi, Messi, Messi, Messi, tiró… ¡GOOOOOOOOOOOOOL Di María! ¡Goooooooooooooooooooooool! ¡Gooooooooooooooooooool! ¡Goooooooooooooooooooooooool! ¡Gooooooooooooooooooooooool! Gooooooooooooool de Di María, te lo dije. Me emociona este pendejo. Me emociona este pendejo. Me emocionás, Di María. Jugás, jugás, jugás; sentís, sentís, sentís. No jugás al fútbol, estás en una guerra, Di María. ¡Estás en una guerra, Di María! Venís de un barrio donde había que lucharla, Di María. Se enchufó Messi, se enchufó Messi: ¿de qué Playstation viniste, Lionel? Lo vio a Di María, entró por derecha. Hace tres minutos te lo dije, te lo dije. Tenía que ser el gol de Di María, se lo merece Di María. ¡Se lo merece Argentina! Y además, ¡no merecemos morir aquí, adelante de 50 mil brasileños! Acá no vamos a morir, acá no vamos a morir. Tirarán con flechas y lucharemos a las sombras si es que nos tapa la luz del Sol como dijo Leonidas. Somos Argentina! Tenemos historia, tenemos chapa, tenemos cracks! Se enchufó Lionel, se escapó de la Playstation y la puso para Di María y el flaquito por derecha, el flaquito por derecha Argentina 1, Suiza 0 Suiza 0 Suiza 0 Andá a laburar a un banco, Benaglio, Andá a laburar a un banco, Benaglio, Dame un crédito al 4% anual en dólares y te lo tomo, Benaglio. Di Maria Argentina Argentina Argentina Brasil, decime qué se siente, (portuguese) eu tem Papa, voce no tem nada!
Rough English translation – Messi is merging! Here he goes Messi Messi Messi he shoots….GOOOOOOOOOOOOOL Di María! ¡Goooooooooooooooooooooool! ¡Gooooooooooooooooooool! ¡Goooooooooooooooooooooooool! ¡Gooooooooooooooooooooooool! Goal by Di Maria! I told you! This kid fires me up! This kid gets me pumped! You excite me Di Maria! You play! You play! You play! Do you feel it? Do you feel it? Do you feel it? You’re not playing soccer Di Maria you’re in a war! You’re in a war. Di Maria you come from a neighborhood where you had to fight. Messi was driving, Messi was plugged in. From what Playstation did you come from Lionel? He saw Maria entering from the right. With 3 minutes left…I told you, I told you. It had to be a goal from Di Maria. You deserve it Di Maria. Argentina deserves it! And also, we do not deserve to die here, in front of 50,000 Brazilians. Here we will not die! We are not dying here today! They’ll shoot arrows that block out the sun and we will fight in the shadows as Leonidas said. We are Argentina! We have history! We’re crazy! Messi was plugged in. He escaped from the Playstation and gave it to Di Maria and the skinny guy on the right, the skinny guy on the right! Argentina 1 Switzerland 0 Switzerland 0 Switzerland 0. Go work in a bank Benaglio (Switzerland goalkeeper). Go work in a bank! Give me 4% annual interest in dollars and I’ll take it!, Benaglio! Di Maria Argentina Argentina Argentina! Brazil, tell me how you feel! I have the Pope, you have nothing!
Now I understand that this is soccer on its highest most intense level but I still argue that watching/listening to soccer in Spanish is more entertaining than in English.
Photo is of me playing soccer with friends. I’m wearing a jersey of Brazil’s club team Fluminense. I’ve been to 2 of their games at the Maracana stadium in Rio.