Goldstein is a professor at Juniata
College in Pennsylvania in the USA.
been World Cup crazy since 1966. He will
share his views about the
past, present and
future of this
|The World Cup en Español
I was born in 1955, when soccer in the USA was
almost invisible. But I was lucky to grow up in
Los Angeles, one of the few places in the country
where at least they knew the game existed.
Southern California has a very large Hispanic
population, including first and second-generation
immigrants from all the Latin American nations.
They play soccer in local leagues, read about
their home country's teams in local
Spanish-language newspapers, and listen to Spanish
radio and TV reports on the games south of the
In the summer of
1966, when I was almost 11, I attended Colegio Español,
a local summer school for kids learning to speak
Spanish. There were classes in Latin American
history and culture; field trips to see the famous
dancers of the Baile Folklorico and the open air
market on Olvera Street; Spanish and Mexican arts
and crafts. There was recess, too, and since this
was an Hispanic cultural experience, we played
something they called "futbol."
funny, but it's not satire: it's 100% literally
true. Jorge Ramos, one of the great Latin American
radio announcers, could give you four heart
attacks (per half!) during the dullest 0-0 draw in
history. I'd be watching a game on television with
the sound turned off and Ramos on the radio, and
no matter what was happening on screen, my pulse
rate would double. And although radio was
naturally more intense, Spanish-language
television gave you the same rush. During the
1990s, Spanish broadcaster Andres Cantor of Univision became famous among English-language
fans for his insane cries of "goooooooooooooooooollllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll!!!"
somehow prolonged beyond the limits of the human
But as early
as 1978, there was Tony Tirado of Spanish
International Network, who did the same thing, and
was even crazier. (Whatever happened to Tony?
I did a search for his name on the web, and
found an article that mentioned how he used to
throw in English words for the English-language
viewers who had no other place to go. And then a
little biographical note on Luis Omar Tapia of
ESPN International, who cites Tony Tiradoas a
great influence on his career. There's also a
in charge of videos for
UNICEF -- maybe?)
so many wonderful memories of those broadcasts, TV
and radio. Where to start? Maybe
1986 World Cup. After a
few games, it became obvious that this was Maradona's tournament, and practically every
time he touched the ball,
Tony Tirado would
"Diego Ar-MAN-do Maradona,"
"Diego Dieguito Diegote"
(literally: Diego, little Diego, big Diego).
"Maradona" would have been enough, but
not for our
when Diego Dieguito Diegote scored that immortal
goal against England (the legitimate one),
went over the top, capping off his call:
esta buscando el cemento, para hacerle un
monumento a Diego Armando Maradona!"
(Argentina is searching for the cement to make a
monument to him!)
Cantor was interviewed by Michelle Kaufman of the
Miami Herald in the Preview of the World Cup USA
Which was the goal you called the loudest?
question, the goal scored by Diego Armando Maradona to England
in Mexico 86?
I heard from
different people, including his father, that he
was a young soccer fan watching Tony Tirado in Los
Angeles during the "Mexico 86".
There were also other distortions and lies.
A.C. laks class and respect.
The Power of the
remember too the epic France-Brazil game of that
year, particularly the penalties. When Joel Bats
saved Zico's penalty in regular time, it was
with "SA-ca Joel Bats!" And in
the shootout, repeated cries of "increible,
increible," and when Julio Cesar's kick
hit the woodwork, Norberto Longo exclaiming
"El palo dice que no!" (The post says
Jorge Ramos was in fine
form in 1986 as well. American journalistic ethics
dictate that national sports broadcasters remain
impartial, but that has absolutely no meaning for
Spanish-language broadcasters, who unashamedly
root for the Latin American teams. (At the 1990
Costa Rica-Czechoslovakia game, Ramos' opening,
roughly translated, was: "It's Costa Rica vs.
Czechoslovakia here, and we're rooting for Costa
Rica, because, well, you just have to.") In
the 1986 Final, Ramos was totally pro-Argentina,
exploding in joy at the goals by Brown and Valdano.
When West Germany got their first, late in the
second half, Ramos called it soberly, went over
the play somberly, then suddenly brightened, and
in triumph exclaimed: "Pero, damas y
caballeros -- no pasa nada!" (In effect:
"Ladies and gentlemen, don't worry, it's
still in the bag!") When the Germans got the
shock equalizer, Ramos never even mentioned that
the ball was in the net; he was too busy crying in
despair "Neri!" "Neri!" (Neri
Pumpido, the Argentine goalkeeper.)
classic call of that Final belonged to
Tirado, though. Maradona's pass split the defense, and
there was Jorge Luis Burruchaga clear, heading for
the winning goal.
somehow had time for
"Burruchaga Burruchaga, Jorge Luis [and then
with extra rolls of the R's] Burrrrrrrruchaga..." and then after the goal"Gooooooooooooooooooooooolllllllllllllll!!!
You can't get that kind of stuff on ESPN.:
got a zillion more, but perhaps the most memorable
call, memorable for what it said about the Latin
American approach to the game, came from the 1982
France-West Germany semifinal. The announcer was Geraldo Peña, a thin, serious-looking man given
to poetic, even metaphysical football commentary.
By the semifinals all the South American teams had
been eliminated (Spain, too), and the one hope of
the Latin fans was France, with their glorious
midfield led by Michel Platini. They were known as
"the Brazil of Europe," and against the
unimaginative, rigid West Germans, they were
without question good against evil. You know the
story of the game: how Schumacher levelled
Battiston, to the horror of the watching world,
and how France went two goals ahead in extra time,
only to lose in the penalty shootout. The game was
one of the most intense in World Cup history, and Peña called it with appropriate fervor, always
favoring the French. In extra time France went up
2-1, and he exulted -- and then France got the
third goal. Surely this meant victory. Peña
celebrated with a crescendo of words hailing
France's creativity, their exuberance, their
attacking style of play, their dedication to the
game at its best, winding up with an ecstatic cry:
"el futbol nunca puede morir!"
("Football can never die!") Well, the
Germans came back, and football didn't die, but I
think a bit of Peña died that night, and maybe a
bit of some of his listeners did as well.
American soccer will never have anything to match
that, but the Spanish-language influence is
creeping in slowly. In the 1980s, Ben and I and
maybe a few others sought out the Spanish
broadcasters, but in recent years they've become
more visible and more popular. Andres Cantor
became something of a celebrity during USA '94, as
people gradually realized that Spanish-language
soccer had its special attractions. After France
'98 he was so well known that he was hired to do
English-language commentary on women's soccer.
This was a classic misreading: Cantor was special
not because he was a good announcer, but because
he was a good Spanish announcer. With the
exception of the endless "goooll" cry,
his English broadcasts were flat, and no one
REPLY TO MR. PETER GOLDSTEIN
REPLY BACK FROM MR. GOLDSTEIN
Dear Mr. Tirado,
Thank you so much for your kind e-mail. I'm 46
years old, but I admit that
it gave me a little-boy thrill; as you probably
figured out, I was a big fan
of yours. In fact, part of the reason I wrote the
article was to mention
your name. Futbol has only recently entered the
English-speaking Americans, and while many of them
TELEMUNDO, and Andres Cantor, very few of them
have heard of Spanish
International Network and
Just so you know the place of honor you held back
in those days, my friends
and I used to have these penalty shootout contests,
and we called them the
Whenever we scored, we would imitate your
"gooooll!" Fun times.
I hadn't known about your illness, but I'm so glad
to hear you are now
healthy. I hope your consulting business is as
successful as your work has
As always, I look forward to the World Cup, and as
always, when I'm
watching, I'll remember the excitement you gave me
and my friends.