The enthusiasm of a cry of ‘GOOOOOL’ that lasts several seconds is one of the most beloved parts of watching the beautiful game
Watch any Spanish or Portuguese-language commentary of a football match and you’ll be graced with the familiar, elongated monosyllabic cry of “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!” whenever a player scores, no matter how big or small the game.
It is a signature component of Spanish-language commentators, who scream the word with an incredible amount of gusto and passion.
But why do they celebrate strikes in such a way? Goal takes a look.
Why do Spanish & Portuguese commentators shout “gooooooooool”?
Screaming “goooooool” during matches by commentators has been a tradition throughout Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries for decades.
The first known instance of the phenomenon dates back to 1946, 14 years after the first ever football game was broadcasted live on Brazilian radio.
Sao Paulo announcer Rebello Junior had stretched out his scream of “gol” (“goal” in Portuguese/Spanish) to the heavens until he was out of breath, which encapsulated the joyous, frenetic passion of the fans celebrating in the same stadium – and then broadcasting that same emotion to the rest of the world.
The energy that was so evident in Junior’s voice is something that is so familiar to any football fan, since that kind of celebratory joy is the universal language.
“When it comes to narrating a goal in soccer,” said Jose Carlos Araujo of Radio Transamerica, who is known as one of the most famed executors of the celebration, “there’s a big dose of artistry involved.”
In 1958, columnist Max Gehringer wrote that Swedish football fans in the stadium turned to where Brazilian sportscaster Edson Leite was positioned every time a goal was scored just to watch him scream “GOOOOOOOL”.
The cries that originated all over Latin America were then carried over to other European countries. Spain-based commentators since have adopted the celebration, and German broadcasters have their own version in which they scream “TOOOOOR” (“Tor” is German for “goal”).
The cry became popular with Spanish-language broadcasters in the United States when Andres Cantor arrived at Univision to commentate on the 1990 and 1994 World Cups. He was already known amongst Spanish-speaking audiences, but his cries of “GOOOOL” became especially famous in the 1994 World Cup – which earned him an invitation to an appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman” where he re-enacted his celebratory cries.
“It’s very flattering when [fans] recognise you, and it’s very funny when people start yelling their guts out in front of you,” Cantor told CNBC.
“Basically I’ve lost my identity. Many people know me by name, but many people say, ‘Hey, you’re Mr. Goal!’ so it’s like, OK, let me change my last name from Cantor to ‘Mr. Goal’.”
Cantor became synonymous with the cries of “GOOOOL” in the U.S., just when North Americans started showing more of an interest in football.
“I called every single game of the ’90, ‘94 and ’98 World Cup,” he says. “That was 50-some games in a month. That was very strenuous on the voice, so I took voice lessons with a voice coach that Gloria Estefan used.”
Having to scream “GOOOOOOOL” for several minutes on end is, of course, no easy feat, and requires great vocal skill and technique.
“It will depend on how much air I have in my lungs, really,” explains Cantor. “Sometimes, I live the game with so much passion and intensity, a 90th minute goal will find me very, very tired.
“But… I’ve never timed myself, it just goes on the merit and importance of the goal I am calling.”
Galvao Bueno, a famous sportscasters in Brazil, compared the cry it to “a tenor’s high C,” which is one of the most difficult notes a tenor’s voice can hold.
“It’s your crowning achievement,” said Bueno. “Or your moment of defeat.”
“On days I’m narrating, I don’t drink coffee,” commentator Alex Escobar has said. “And the day before, I don’t drink alcohol.”