As our Spanish-language soccer odyssey draws to a close, we’ve already learned the key Spanish terms for forwards, defenders and midfielders in Part I and Part II. However, we’ve left out the very back of the field: keepers. Equally important, there are key terms which do not translate from English to Spanish. Soccer is a minefield of false cognates. Just ask any guy who has been embarrassed and claimed to be embarazada.
Spain and Latin America use different terms for both the actual physical goal and goalies. In Spain, the term is puerta, which also means “door.” In Latin America, the term is arco which means “arch.” Another common term that’s a bit more formal is porteria. I’m afraid that the English term, onion bag, translates to bolsa de cebolla but nobody uses this (yet). Instead, a common term is red, which means “net”. The term in Spain for a goalie is a portero and in Latin America is arquero. Folks also say guardameta, which means net-guard.
One of the key skillsets for any goalie is speed when coming off his line. How did Luis Suarez score the winner against England from such a poor angle? Joe Hart lumbered towards him. The phrase “come off his line” for a goalie is salir a achicar. Salir means “to go” and achicar means “to make smaller.” If a goalie makes a save, then it’s called a parada (which means “stop”). A really extraordinary save, of the Memo Ochoa variety, would be a paradon.
Now, time for some basic terms that are useful both when watching and playing. When a ball is kicked out of play and a team gets a “throw in”, this is called a saque de mano. A free-kick is a tiro libre. A corner kick is a tiro de esquina. A goal-kick is a saque de meta. For the last two terms, the words saque and tiro can be used interchangeably. Tiro means “shot”, as in a bullet shot, not what you did before blacking out during Spring Break. Saque comes from sacar, which means “to pull or yank” something out of something. Kinda like what you did on the beach in Spring Break in your youth and now regret.
The word for a referee is arbitro and linesperson is juez de linea. The term for a coach is entrenador, which literally translates to “trainer”. A TV announcer is a locutor. Halftime in Latin America is mediotiempo but in Spain is entretiempo. I don’t know what’s up with that, but feel free to write to the Real Academia Espanola to find out.
The word for win is ganar (similar to “to gain”) and the term for “lose” is perder. You are a fan, which makes you a aficionado in Spain or a hincha in South America. The term comes from the word hinchar, which means “to swell” and is exactly what you look like after all those pregame Tostitos. You barely even fit into your camiseta (“jersey”) anymore. In Mexico, jersey is sometimes called casaca or playera. In South America, the common phrase is remera.
So there you have it – you can now describe the basic positions, actions, and folks surrounding the beautiful game.
Elliott writes about soccer at Futfantico.com. He is the author of An Illustrated Guide to Soccer and Spanish, available on Amazon, and at iTunes.