Goals galore in verbal warm-up for the next World Cup

FIFA World Cup 2014 logo.

Around about this time in all parts of the world qualifying matches are taking place to decide which teams will eventually make it to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, or A Copa do Mundo as it is known in Portuguese. The Copa is going to be a linguistic treat. On my last trip to Brazil I was lucky to fit in a game at the Pacaembu stadium in São Paulo – a seven-goal thriller between Corinthians and Cruzeiro – and I soon learned how to say derogatory things in Portuguese about the referee and his maternal heritage. It is not sufficient to learn the swear words and insults, you have to say them in the right way, with drama and passion. Don’t hold back! I think the next Copa Mundial will be fun. If you are planning on going, expect your vocabulary to be considerably broadened. Certainly football terminology, particularly in Portuguese, will feature in this blog as part of the build-up to Brasil 2014 but I don’t think I will teach you how to swear at the referees, who in my opinion have a very difficult job.

In the European qualifying section I keep an eye on how the teams representing My Five Romances – France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Romania – are doing. Last week there was big drama for Portugal and Romania: both were losing away from home but scored equalisers in added time to snatch a share of the spoils, Portugal drawing 3-3 against unfancied Israel in Tel Aviv, and Romania 2-2 against Hungary in Budapest (a match that no doubt would have been given added spice because of their cross-border rivalries and the fact that areas that parts of Romania were once part of Hungary and some Hungarians want them back).

Fábio Coentrão lors d'un match amical Portugal...

He’s all concentration but don’t call him that. Fábio Coentrão in action. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Portugal’s late equaliser came from Fábio Coentrão, who plays club football for Real Madrid, and some Spanish reporters have been known to accidentally call him Fábio Concentração (which means Concentration). Clearly they are the ones who do not pay enough attention. You can watch Fábio’s club and country teammate Cristiano Ronaldo give a Spanish reporter a lesson in Portuguese here.

Portugal has three daily newspapers dedicated solely to football (A Bola, O Jogo and Record), how great is that! Yup, each usually prints about 32 pages a day – roughly 10 pages on Benfica, 10 on Sporting Lisbon, 10 on Porto and a mere two pages dedicated to the rest of Portugal and the world.

I thought it would be an interesting linguistic exercise to see what some Portuguese newspapers had to say about their team’s performance. 

A Bola (The Ball) had the simple headline Portugal empata em Israel (3-3) (empatar means to draw) and its opening line was A Seleção Nacional empatou a três golos com Israel, com um golo de Fábio Coentrão ao cair do pano a garantir um ponto precioso para na luta pelo segundo lugar do grupo F which means The national team drew 3-all with Isreal, with a goal by Fábio Coentrão in the dying minutes* to guarantee a precious point in the battle for second place in Group F. You can read the rest here.

The Público newspaper’s headline was Caiu um ponto no colo de Portugal em Israel (A point falls in Portugal’s lap in Israel) and its next line was A selecção nacional esteve em vantagem, permitiu a reviravolta e chegou ao empate já em tempo de compensação. As contas do apuramento para o Mundial 2014 estão mais complicadas. This basically means The national team was ahead, but allowed itself to fall behind (reviravolta means u-turn, turnaround) and drew in extra time. The mathematics of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup are now more complicated. You can read the rest here.

The Diário de Notícias newspaper’s headline was Portugal empata em Israel sem futebol digno de Mundial (Portugal draw in Israel without football worthy of the Cup). The opening of sentence/paragraph of its report was Portugal escapou à derrota graças a um golo de Fábio Coentrão, no período de compensação, mas somou o quinto jogo sem ganhar e não disfarçou as muitas fragilidades na seleção treinada por Paulo Bento. This means Portugal escaped defeat thanks to a goal by Fábio Coentrão, in injury time, but notched up a fifth game without a win and did not disguise the many fragilties in the team coached by Paul Bento. You can read the rest here.

As you can see, Portuguese newspapers are fairly restrained. Where was the shock at the disappointing result, where were the outrageous tabloid headlines? Where were the puns?

* What is interesting is the variety of terms used to describe extra time, added time or injury time. A Bola used ao cair do pano which is a theatrical term meaning at the final curtain (pano usually means cloth, cair means fall). The other newspapers used em tempo de compensação or no periodo de compensação – the time/period of compensation (for lost time). In Brazilian newspapers you will often see nos acrécimosin additions.

You can see the six goals in Tel Aviv below but the footage is not the best, and it has been cobbled together starting off with commentary in English for the first goal but then switching to more dramatic Brazilian commentators for the rest. You will hear the commentator say acrécimos after the last goal. Twice the commentator describes Israel’s second goal as uma bomba. I think you can guess that word’s most usual meaning, but in football terms in Brazil especially it means an explosive strike, a magnificent goal often scored from long distance. The more bombas you have in a game, the better.

The highlights of the Hungary-Romania match can be seen here – two field goals, two penalties and an incredible miss by the Romanian number 9 in front of an open goal! I think you will understand much of the commentators are saying.

One thing is for sure, Brazilian commentators can exclaim “gggoooooooooooolll!” much better than their Romanian counterparts can. (Goal is gol in both languages)

Portugal and Romania are both coming distant joint seconds in their qualifying groups (behind Russia and the Netherlands respectively) but teams that finish second in their groups can still have a chance of making it to Brazil. Italy are leading their group but Bulgaria are not far behind, while France and Spain are tussling for supremacy in their group, but France have made the better start. The two teams meet in Paris on Tuesday night (for me that’s Wednesday morning Australian time) in what could be the decisive game. If France win it will be hard for World Cup holders Spain to catch up with them. When they played in Madrid it was a 1-1 draw. Romania have a tough game away to the Netherlands and will be keeping a close eye on the Turkey-Hungary result. (Hungary and Romania both have 10 points and Turkey have six. Even a draw will be a good result for Romania.) Italy have what should be a fairly easy task away to Malta, whereas Bulgaria will be tested in Denmark. Portugal and Israel (both on 8 points) are away to Azerbaijan and Northern Ireland respectively.

Whatever your sport, may your team win or at least do you proud! Cheers, Bernardo 🙂