If Argentina is where you’re headed this year and you’re planning what to see and do there, why not think about making time to catch a little sport? Sport plays a big part in Argentinian society with a number of them practiced both for leisure and to keep fit. But which are the most popular sports to watch?
Football is by far the most popular and successful sport in Argentina. The men’s national team is currently 11th in the Fifa world rankings, and has won the Copa América 14 times. The Primera División is Argentina’s professional football league, with big-name teams like River Plate and Boca Juniors competing for the title. Lionel Messi and Sergio Agüero are two of Argentina’s biggest stars, yet neither ever played in the Primera División, both going straight into professional careers overseas. Though you’ll find both proudly representing the national team.
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For lower league football action in Argentina, Primera B Nacional is the second division, with 32 teams competing to be promoted to the Primera División and avoid relegation to the third division. This third tier is occupied by two professional leagues, the Primera B Metropolitana and the Torneo Federal A. And if you want to enjoy even more grass roots football then there are almost 40 further teams competing at fourth and fifth levels. Football is everywhere you look in Argentina!
So what language do you need on the terraces if you’re watching a game in Argentina? Here is a little vocabulary along with some special terms you might only hear in Argentina.
Mano — hand ball
Penal — penalty
Barrete — slide tackle
Fuera de Lugar — off side
Tarjeta Roja / Amarilla — ted / yellow card
El Area — the zone / box
Arbitro — referee
Morfón — player who doesn’t pass
Pase — pass
Taco — back heel
Vaselina — lob
Chilena — bicycle kick
Rabona — kicking the ball with a crossed leg, signature move of Claudio Borghi and Angelito di María
Burlar — dribbling
Gambeta — a special kind of dribbling perfected by the likes of Maradona and Messi.
Falta — foul
Poste — post
Pegarle (al balón) — to shoot
Meter un gol / clavar un gol — to score a goal
Trapo — banners and flags
Hinchada — fans
Termo — hot-headed players / fans
Argentina is tenth in the rugby world rankings, regularly competing in the Rugby World Cup and the Rugby Championship. Rugby is particularly popular in the Greater Buenos Aires region, where some eighty clubs play. Argentina has 24 separate provincial unions which all organise their own competitions, so you should be able to find a game no matter where you are in Argentina. Though for bigger competitions you should follow either the Nacional de Clubes or the Torneo del Interior, both of which have 16 teams competing over short seasons. Some of the biggest teams to look out for are the Hindú Club and Club Newman for Nacional de Clubes, and CURNE and Huirapuca for Torneo del Interior.
So what language do you need to know when watching a game?
El rugby — rugby
Partido — game
Pasando — passing
Try — try
Falto — foul
Tag — tag
Placaje tackle — rugby tackle
Equipo — team
La competición — competition
El campeonato — championship
Ganar — to win
Perder — to lose
Balón — ball
Copa — cup
Basketball is a popular sport in the provinces of Argentina, with teams competing at a professional level in the Liga Nacional de Básquet. Teams to look out for in this league are San Lorenzo and Instituto Atlético Central Córdoba, two of twenty teams competing for the championship title. The second league of rugby in Argentina is La Liga Argentina de Básquet, in which 28 teams compete across four divisions. The national team is currently fifth in the world rankings, regularly taking part in the Pan American Games, the South American Basketball Championship, and the FIBA AmeriCup.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Argentina when any of these bigger events are being hosted, or you’re looking to watch a more local game, you’ll need a few words!
Entrenador / entrenar — coach
Driblar / finta — dribble
Pase / pasar — pass
Parar y pivotar — stopping and pivoting
Tirar — shoot
Rebotear — rebounding
Tiempo muerto — time out
Pase de pecho — chest pass
Tirar el pase — bounce pass
Pase por encima de la cabeza — overhead pass
Proteger la bola — protect the ball
Tiro — layup
Cortar la zona para tirar — back cut to layup
Correr a defender — sprint back
Calentamiento — warm up
Fundamentos — fundamentals
Escaramuza — scrimmage
Whatever sport you choose to watch in Argentina, we think you’ll love it! Want to be more confident for cheering your favorite teams on? Why not check your current Spanish level with our free online test? We have courses that are tailored exactly to your needs, so if you want to brush up on your Spanish before you go to Argentina, drop us a quick inquiry.