How to Watch a Spanish Soccer Program

So you are going to Spain. You will order something more sophisticated than a 3 a.m. burrito. Mom will no longer be pestered to ‘pasa me those patatas.’ You make it on planes, trains and Skoda taxis with little more than ‘Paco es estudiante’. Finally in your undersized, overfurnitured residence, you click on the tube. Oh joy! Oh alegría! It’s a program called “Punto Pelota”, and it’s got a picture of a soccer ball on it!

But wait a minute. What the heck are they saying?

Television is perhaps the greatest test for the would-be Spanish-language learner. You can follow the news around your first-semester midterm. First, there is only one person talking. Second, there are pictures. Third, they tend to be pictures of people you know, or ought to know.  So you can guess that the person talking is talking about the person in the picture, and you ought to know him. ¡Sí, entiendo!

The late-night talk show is an ego boost, too. The guy making funnies, and the hottie plugging her movie, and the weirdo with the animals. Even if you don’t get the jokes, you get that the jokes are funny, because the bandleader laughs. And everyone is too busy wondering how the hottie is going to sit down in her short skirt without flashing the audience to follow the jokes anyway.

But “Punto Pelota” is different. You should get it, because you are a knowledgeable and dedicated football fan. You have three chapters of ¡Let’s Speak Español! memorized. And the guy in the picture? That Mourinho person? You blog about him every week! But you don’t follow. Never fear, for SoMaestra is here to guide you through the Spanish Soccer Program in Five Easy Steps!

1. Do not attempt to follow the conversation. This is not a conversation; it’s a gabmatch. A bunch of people talking and gesticulating excitedly without any meaningful exchange of information. Kind of like being around real Spanish people, but all of them are now crammed into your four-square meter flat with you.

2. Do not attempt to follow just one person. Remember, he’s not talking to anyone. He’s talking in the presence of other people talking. And if you do manage to catch what he says, you will hear something like this:

Pero … (But)

Sí, vale, es que …  (Yeah, o.k., it’s just that)

¿Me dejas decir algo? (Would you let me say something?)

Señores, centrémonos en el tema, por favor … (Gentlemen, let’s stay on topic, please)

You might as well jump in there with your insightful ‘Paco es estudiante‘.

On second thought, just mute the volume.

3. Look at the props. The best way to tell what kind of show you are watching is to consider the items scattered about: newspapers (political programs), onions (cooking segments) and so on. “Punto Pelota” has soccer balls rolling about under the chairs. No, they do not scrimmage during commercials. The balls are there to tell you that these people are gabbing about something soccer-related.

4. Look at the pictures. Kind of like the news, these are pictures of people you know, or ought to know. You know that guy in the video, right? Okay, so they’re all gabbing about him. Or were. Or are trying to. But it doesn’t really matter. He inspires that kind of senseless noisy gabbing wherever he goes anyway.

5. Read the text messages. You can text pretty much any kind of Spanish program and your message will appear on the bottom of the screen. Spanish people love to text their television shows. And they favor phonetics over acronyms, so if you read the letters aloud, you can figure out what everyone is saying. If not, however, rest assured they are communicating one of the following ideas:

a. The program is biased.

m. 0:04: ‘Los periodistas de barcelona defienden mas al barcelona’ (The Barcelona journalists always defend FC Barcelona).

b. The referee was biased.

m. 0:16: ‘El albitro este fue comprado’ (The referee was bribed).

Also m. 1:04, 2:08, 2:16 and 3:06.

c. Everyone should be talking about someone else.

m. 0:33: ‘Poner por favor el teatro de cristiano’ (Talk about Cristiano).

m. 2:57: ‘Por k no ablais de empujom de inzagi’ (Talk about Inzagi)

m. 0:40: ‘Casillas sale triste’ (Talk about Casillas); also m. 049 and 3:48.

d. Commenting on the commentators.

m. 2:00: ‘Carme sta cada dia mas wapa’ (Carmen gets prettier every day)

m. 3:37: ‘Roncero grande viva punto pelota craks’ (Roncero’s great Punto Pelota rocks)

e. Sending a ‘shout-out’ to a love-interest who may be watching.

m. 2:34: ‘Irene guapa’ (Irene, you beauty!)

As you can see, you Spanish-soccer-program-watching-person you, all you have to do is mute the volume, ignore the commentators, look at the props and read the texts to understand how much everybody is not talking about the guy in the photos!

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Written by:

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. y2k156
    November 15, 2010

    Good one.

    They do seem better than most english commentators though. I think not understanding can be a good thing in this case.

  2. Cesc Blanc
    November 15, 2010

    great source of comedy this punto pelota program. my favorite guest is still fred ermel..who has me blocked on twitter.

    • poipoi
      November 15, 2010

      lol is that right? ermel? I hate roncero the most he is an EE icon, THE EE icon. his face should be the shield IMO

    • Kari
      November 15, 2010

      Yup, it’s below. If your comment was in moderation , it’s because you posted the link without putting something before it, i.e. *, / , ^ .

      Admins are special because they can approve their own links 😀

  3. Kxevin
    November 15, 2010

    I can’t begin to describe how much I want (and would rock like a rocking chair speed demon) one of these:

    Picture: Sample of Barcelona’s possible away shirt for the 2011-2012 season: #fcblive [via @jesusmalaga]

    • Eklavya
      November 15, 2010

      Oh my God. That would be different all right… but I dunno 😯

      • November 15, 2010

        Not to worry. They will never see the light of day, except maybe as a one-off, maybe a special sale thing like the MES shirts, and the club would wear them for a match or two, maybe the Gamper and something else.

        I’d add that in the “more Catalan than thou” world of Sandro Rosell, these shirts have more likelihood of coming to pass than they otherwise would. But I don’t think so, not even as a third shirt. The reaction would be too galvanizing.

    • jordi(TM)
      November 15, 2010

      Looks cool, but we’d look like Sant Andreu.With thicker stripes.

    • November 15, 2010

      Well, I dont like. Its colors with the colors of the badge create a pure recipe of ugliness. But that’s only me.

    • hello there
      November 15, 2010

      Nice. It would be even better if Pep dressed as Ronald Mcdonald when they wore this.

  4. blitzen
    November 15, 2010

    Seriously, Ibra has got to stop with the ninja moves!


    • Helge
      November 15, 2010

      Well, as long as it’s only Materazzi… I will never feel compassion for Materazii, whatever happens!

  5. Kari
    November 15, 2010

    “SoMaestra”. I will be using that from now on.

    Some videos from the Villareal match (all from allas11) :

    Tiki-taka : /

    Skills : /

    Dani’s defending(!) during the game 😀 : /

    November 15, 2010

    Awesome!Fantastic!I love it too!

  7. hamzawi
    November 15, 2010

    good article, is my first contribution to this great blog.I think it is the best barca community on the the topic,this link is to afellay moment of magic.could be helpful.

  8. cliveee
    November 15, 2010

    SoMaestra, what is that 3 fingers of Mourinho about?

    • hamzawi
      November 15, 2010

      It is about his treble with inter last year.

  9. Jnice
    November 15, 2010

    I love Deportes Cuatro, they always have the scoop.

    Video on the incident between Pep and Garrido and how Pep celebrated our goals.


    • Nav
      November 15, 2010

      This is awesome. Thanks for sharing it. I love how pleased Pep looks.

    • poipoi
      November 15, 2010

      those viedos are the heritage of “canal+” and his mythical show “el dia despues” I think deportes cuatro and specially Los Manolos suck, no one can be more sensationalist than them… but the videos are still awesome. I guess they’re from the same people. El Dia Despues was the best football or sports program I’ve ever seen, Deportes Cuatro is like an involution, but gotta say E.D.D. was a weekly show. Now it’s back on in Canal+ but it’s not the same, Cañizares conduct it xD not many people pay to see that channel, my father had it that’s why I know and looove the show (I miss you dad) 😉 . It’s hard to find their videos in the web, some regular person has to record and upload them like per say Informe Robinson, from the same channel and very good also.

      I love Punto Pelota btw, to the bone. Who else would I watch after Lyon or Liverpool or Alcorcon gvictories vs EE? they are the funniest ever!!

      • Jnice
        November 15, 2010

        I used to be able to download El Dia Despues, but I can’t get it anymore.

  10. Kxevin
    November 15, 2010

    This just in: Afellay’s agent says that we and PSV have reached agreement, now the player will have to reach personal terms with us. Can’t see that being very difficult.

    • Kxevin
      November 15, 2010

      The agent of PSV midfielder Ibrahim Afellay has revealed that the Eindhoven club and Barcelona have agreed terms for the January transfer of the playmaker via his company’s website Sport Promotion Consultancy.

      After weeks of speculation regarding a deal, the two clubs have apparently settled on a price for the 24-year-old, though he admits the Dutch international has not yet agreed to personal terms with the Blaugrana and that will not happen immediately.

      “That [agreeing personal terms] is definitely going to take some time,” explained Rob Jansen.

      “There is certainly no final agreement. When the time comes we will notify the media and the fans through our website.”

  11. Josep
    November 15, 2010

    Official statement PSV: “PSV and FC Barcelona have reached an agreement on the transfer of Ibrahim Afellay to Spain during the winter break”

    • Kxevin
      November 15, 2010

      And from us:

      Agreement with PSV for Afellay

      PSV Eindhoven and FC Barcelona have reached agreement on a deal to bring Ibrahim Afellay to Barça, with only the personal terms between the player and the Catalan club to be settled over the next few weeks.

      The player will be registered in January once the winter transfer market opens. Until the deal is finally settled, Ibrahim Afellay wishes to concentrate on the upcoming important games for PSV.

      • Ethan
        November 15, 2010

        So happy about this transfer. Price and quality, perfect signing. What he brings is exactly what we need. Width, pace, passing, crossing, dribbling skills, comfortable with the ball at his feet, and what an incredible shot he has. Talk about bus breakers, with Messi, Pedro, Villa and now Afellay, we have some amazing long distance shooters. And thankfully i see Afellay not being afraid of pulling the trigger from distance, which might inspire others to do the same, because that is exactly what we need. Defenders to be afraid of our long distance shots so we can sneak balls and find space behind the defenders from our runs. Just a great great overall signing.

        • Ethan
          November 15, 2010

          Affelay Video: *

          • Ethan
            November 15, 2010


  12. November 15, 2010

    Sid Lowe ranting about El Clasic coming on a Monday:

    Hey, they resisted Monday Night Football, too. Football was supposed to be on Sunday, dangit! Now look. We wouldn’t schedule a Super Bowl on election day, right? Same difference.

    People are saying that we got it moved just because we didn’t want to play so soon after a Champions League tie. Whatevs. Like we have enough power to run roughshod over the wishes of the EE.

    November 15, 2010

    Please can ibra shut up?enough with his talks about pep.

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