Exile in Batville

Ah, Spain … land of sunshine, serrano ham and guilt-free smoking … as well as Felliniesque personal interactions, Kafkaesque bureaucracies and   Spielbergian cucarachas. At first, you fill your digital camera with images of wedding-cake cathedrals and futuristic Calatrava bridges; later, you seethe as yet another technicolor-haired widow elbows her way in front of you in line; and finally, you, too, are packing in a four-course meal at 2 p.m. and telling (and being told by) total strangers ‘vete a la mierda’ without a second thought.

So it’s Silly Season again (or at least until next week or so). Over the next few posts I’ll bring some Spanish Silliness to BFB. No in-depth coverage, no gotcha! interviews, no perceptive insights. Promise. Just few lighthearted observations from my recent travels to Batville And Back.

Silliest Soccer Headline: ‘Spain Smells Like Messi’

‘España no huele a ajo, sino a Messi’ (Spain doesn’t smell like garlic, it smells like Messi’); text selected and translated from an interview with Ann Gottlieb, world-renown professional perfumist, in ABC 17 June 2010.

ABC:    ‘The intellectual Victoria Beckham has said that Spain smells like garlic. Have you detected anything like this here?

Gottlieb: Absolutely not. To say that Spain smells like garlic is neither physically possible nor true. I can’t imagine what she was thinking about when she said that.

ABC: So, what does Spain smell like?

Gottlieb: Like Messi!

ABC: Are you referring to the soccer player? After or before the game? Because it really wouldn’t be the same …

Gottlieb: I mean Messi as an icon at the top of his game, and I can imagine a Messi fragrance that would be deep, rich and warm, with a spark of congeniality. Memorable!

Silliest Soccer Sighting: The Eurocup

Imagine walking out of your rented flat in a mixed-use building, one use of which you strongly suspect to be of ill repute … past the Chinatown grocers, overstuffed booksellers and sex-shop parlors … to the Art Nouveau Estació del Nord where your train-crazed sons insist you breakfast …  and seeing this in the parking lot:

Well, this certainly seems soccer-related, so you pause for a moment and see a small press corps surrounding a rotund balding person, so you take a picture of him too:

(You later identify this person as Valencia CF’s former footballer and current sports director, Fernando Gómez)

And then since nothing else is really going on you start to wander towards the depot when you spot something shiny on a little folding table next to the bus. There doesn’t seem to be any security besides a guy standing there looking bored, and when you nudge your four-year old towards the silver he just shrugs so you take another picture (four-year old edited out in order to protect the mischievous but innocent):

Silliest Soccer Proposal: 600K a Head

I asked the Hunky Soccer Husband which was more important to a Spaniard in a World Cup year: his club or the national team? He replied: ‘The club, because the national team never makes it to the quarterfinals anyway’. This can’t-do approach is quite Spanish in its humility (compare, for instance, the plucky gumption of the underdog Superbowl Saints’ Who Dat? versus the fatalist Deixem la pell [We’ll do the best we can!] of Champions semifinalist Barça). The June issue of Ronda, Iberian Airlines’ in-flight magazine, contains an interview with Xavi Hernández in which the mundialista midfielder expresses pretty much the same idea: ‘It’s nice to be a favored team this year, but historically we never seem to get very far’.

So the higher-ups at the Selección have come up with a special pick-me-up: 600,000 euros for every member of La Roja if Casillas lifts the Cup. This arose as a subject for debate on ‘La noche en 24 horas’ with Vicente Vallés on Televisión Española (TVE). It’s kind of a CNN ‘Situation Room’-like program, except with a more charismatic anchor, less seizure-producing graphics and viewer messages via Facebook read live on-air. Here are some of my favorite responses from the Roja faithful:

It’s an outrage when the country faces economic catastrophe!

Football is a world unto itself, separate from national economic affairs.

I hope we don’t win the World Cup, it would be very expensive.


They should all be satisfied with a good jabungo.

Nothing silly ’bout that!

Categorized as Barcelona

By SoccerMom

SoccerMom obsesses over FCB and this blog instead of grading papers, burning dinner and/or raising her small children. She blames a Spanish husband and easy access to Hispanic-targeted cable sports channels for her football addiction and consequent failure as a professor, housekeeper and mother.


  1. Apparently Iniesta felt a little discomfort in the back of his right thigh and requested the change. It doesn’t seem bad, but I guess we’ll know more after the match. Here’s hoping for it to be discomfort and nothing more.

  2. A totally bad@ss player who’s the star player on his club team and has really intense eyes is about to come on.

    The other sub is Cesc FabregaswhoisNOTgoingtoBarcaOMG.

  3. U think the Barca players feel weird celebrating with Madrid players?

    Haha. Alonso did take one for the team there though. Right in the face… ouch!

  4. Navas, RamosUGH, the that guy who players for that English team are on

    Arbeloa, Silva and Xavi are off.

  5. I can’t believe I forgot this was on. Iniesta is the awesome. Everything I’ve read has said that he was subbed as a precaution. Lets hope so, I think this WC is gonna be all about Iniesta.

    Are we gonna see Torres today?

    1. It doesn’t look like we are. Considering how this American commentator on ESPN has been fawning over Torres, we’d have seen him warming up already.

      There is still time for him to make an appearance though.

    2. Ugh, ESPN commentators are annoying. Last year during the Euros, in the final match when Torres scored, one of them said something like “and he celebrated like he always does [by sucking his thumb], because he is El Niño.” Which you know, fail. He only did that to celebrate his nephew’s birth.

      But blah blah blah. Torres is warming up!

  6. God. Spain have an insane team. Look at the players coming off and who they are being replaced with. No other team in the world comes close to this squad. It will be a crying shame if they dont win the WC.

  7. Also, great write up SoccerMom! I’m heading to Spain either at the end of the year or early next year and I’m gonna look forward to insulting random people. And stalking Barça, naturally.

    1. Yup. I love his play. I downloaded the Sevilla-EE match when Sevilla won, mostly for him, but also because EE lost. Yay!

  8. Yay for Torres! I have missed watching him play. Do we know if Del Bosque is gonna go for a Villa-Torres front line?

  9. Marvilla is coming off for Torres.

    I don’t like how these ESPN commentators are underrating Villa. Still, I understand all the hype. He DID score the winning goal in the Euros.

    1. Eh, take it as ESPN commentators not knowing as much about futbol as they think they do. I love Torres, but I think Villa tends to be more effective for the Spanish team. And actually, Villa benefits when Torres plays with him, he gets more space.

    2. That he is. That he is.

      But Villa > Nando IMO…who just scores.

      P! with the assist. Commentators going crazy

    1. Totally agree.

      People only notice his faults but don’t appreciate his good attributes. He’s been really good today.

  10. Announcers on the Spanish feed say Iniesta is back on the bench and doesn’t look worried. So, that means good news. I hope.

  11. Busi gets decked and look at that! He doesn’t roll around and just gets back up.

    See that Busi basher?

    It’s getting silly now. Fouls everywhere. Ramos pisses me off.

    Marchena for Puyi

    1. well, I guess you thought wrong! Pedro! is growing right in front of our very eyes.

      I think I might cry…

  12. Isn’t it awesome to see Pedro! play with la seleccion? Also glad to see Torres scoring.

    Oh man, I can’t wait for Friday!!

  13. That was very generous play by Pedro! He could have forced it up 4-0 late but instead placed on Torres’s foot. Very nice to integrate Torres back into the squad.

    It’s speaks volumes about Pedro that he’s getting so much playing time this late before the club.

    One can see Pedro and Navas being key substitutes for Spain depending on tactics.


    1. Wooo! That was awesome. And Navas almost scores. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Spain played every match like this in the WC? It would be epic!

  15. At least Poland are being sporting about this. They could easy start kicking the Spanish player. If they get a goal, at least they’ve got my respect

  16. You know what makes me giggle? That Cesc is Spain’s number 10 and is nowhere near being their best player.

    1. Yeah, although this team shoots more from outside the box. It’d be nice to see Barca take some shots like Navas or Alonso does! (on target, mind you…)

  17. Okay, so in preparation of the WC, I’ve decided to make myself some CD mixes of footy related songs. Either songs about footy or songs used in footy commercials.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Don’t know of any, but that GOD-AWFUL waka-waka crap 🙂

      but the Game of life – ricky martin, was by far my favorite, France 1998 🙂

      if ya find more. pass ’em over.

  18. By the way, Fiorentina have confirmed that Keirrison is not wanted for next season. Does anyone want him?

    1. Who wants some Keirrison…?

  19. Thanks Soccermom, this was a delightful read 🙂 entertaining, esp the Messi bit, huge change from what America would smell like (which I dare not say). Looking forward to more.

  20. Didn’t get to watch the game, but loved the post soccer mom, as good a piece of travel writing as I have ever read — I must out myself as a soccer mom as well, but married to a German, and avoiding the paper corrections like mad…have to learn Spanish and then Catalan though. The match commentary was priceless, it was almost as if I had seen the game. Still didn’t get to correcting those damned papers though.

Comments are closed.