How the Passion for Messi in Argentina is Changing Argentine Spanish Significantly

image of argentine soccer fan and text about how the passion for messi in argentina is changing the language

The devotion for Messi in Argentina is shaping the way Argentinians speak. With Argentina becoming world champion and getting its third world cup, Argentinians are euphoric.

Spanish is a language plagued with idiomatic expressions that come from soccer. Sayings such as “ponerse la camiseta”, which is what we say when someone does the hard work, are very common. 

After the last World Cup, Argentina’s Spanish has acquired new sayings related to soccer and the devotion for Messi. Continue reading to learn more!

Passion for Messi in Argentina

Even though most of you know who Messi is, I am going to introduce him to those who don’t follow soccer. 

Messi is currently the greatest soccer player in the world. He is from Rosario, Argentina, but lives in Europe, with his wife and three children. He played for Barcelona for many years. Currently, he plays for Paris Saint Germain in France. 

The passion for Messi has been going on for years, but it’s increased significantly since the last World Cup in Qatar 2022 where Argentina was champion. However, the devotion for Messi isn’t just about his great talents. 

As my friend Suri Esquivel described on Linkedin, Messi is “an example of great leadership, a constant motivator, a humble human being, a devoted dad, a loving husband, and an amazing team player.”   

Is Argentina’s devotion to soccer changing the language?

While the World Cup of Qatar 2022 was taking place, Argentinians came up with new songs and phrases to cheer for “la Selección”, our national team. 

There were three phrases that seemed to be the most popular among Argentina’s fans and they are here to stay forever as part of our history.

The three phrases are: “anulo mufa”, “elijo creer” and “qué mirás, bobo, andá pa’llá”. 

Elijo creer

Argentines believe in luck and identify as “cabaleros”, which means they have “cábalas”. A “cábala” is an object or an act believed to bring you good luck. 

For example, I always wore the same light-blue dress and white bracelet for every Argentina match. This outfit brought good luck, or so I want to believe. 

Moreover, Argentinians look for signs of good luck everywhere they can, and this year was no exception. 

The Argentine people found tons of similarities between this year’s World Cup and the one from 1986 when Argentina won its second World Cup. 

Making these somewhat absurd comparisons and predicting Argentina’s victory, the phrase “elijo creer” or “I choose to believe” became extremely popular. 

Now, anytime someone says “elijo creer” people will remember the 2022’s World Cup. 

Anulo mufa

Mufa is the slang word for “bad luck”. Therefore, “anulo mufa” is a message people said to “cancel bad luck” or not to bring any bad luck to the soccer team. 

In a way, this was the phrase most fans used to not “jinx” the results during the World Cup. I believe this phrase will be used again in the future. 

Qué mirás, bobo, andá pa’llá

This is probably the funniest and most unforgettable phrase from this World Cup. Who said it? The one and only: Lionel Messi.

One of the things that I and most people love about Messi is that he’s polite and respectful of others. Unlike most Argentinians, he doesn’t lose his temper easily.

However, there was a heated confrontation between the Netherlands and Argentina before and during the match. And when a player from the Netherlands was staring at Messi while he was being interviewed, he dismissed him with this phrase. 

 “Qué mirás, bobo” means “what are you looking at, fool”. And “andá pa’ llá” comes from “andá para allá” (go over there, literally) meaning “go away”.

Argentinians have a special sense of humor and, as strange as it sounds, they absolutely loved seeing their team leader lose his temper for the first time. 

The phrase “qué mirás bobo, andá pa’llá” is now printed on t-shirts, coffee mugs, and more.  

Celebrating with Lionel Messi in Argentina

 “No traten de entendernos porque no lo puedo explicar”

Another phrase that ‘s become really popular is “no traten de entendernos porque no lo puedo explicar”, meaning “don’t try to understand us because I can’t explain”. 

The celebrations for every one of Argentina’s victories have been insane in every province of Argentina, in Bangladesh, and all around the world where there are small Argentinian communities.  

During the celebrations we’ve seen fans singing, crying, jumping, wearing costumes in light-blue and white, and climbing monuments, traffic lights, and buses to wave the Argentinian flag. 

The phrase “no traten de entendernos porque no lo puedo explicar” goes for anyone who just doesn’t understand the passion Argentinians feel. 

Can’t Explain this Madness  

A lady without grandchildren became the grandmother of the nation when she got out of her house to celebrate Argentina’s victories dancing with fans singing to her “abuela lalalala”. 

Climbed on top of a traffic light, a man and a woman, two strangers, shared a kiss for the first time after Argentina won.

Millions of little boys and girls wear Messi’s t-shirt, no matter if it is the original, the cheap one, or the one their mother made with plastic. 

In a country where 50% of the population is poor, soccer is one of the few things that brings us together and makes us happy (and a little crazy too). 

Messi en Argentina con la Copa del Mundo

Now that Messi and the team of champions are in Argentina celebrating with the fans, I’d like to teach you some soccer vocabulary in Spanish. 

Learn these words and join the celebration!

Soccer vocabulary

  1. Foul – Falla
  2. Free kick – Tiro libre
  3. Kick – Patear la pelota
  4. Nutmeg – Caño
  5. Offside – Fuera de juego
  6. Penalties – Penales
  7. Save – Atajar la pelota
  8. Score – Meter un gol
  9. Yellow card – Tarjeta amarilla


The passion for Messi in Argentina is changing Argentine Spanish. Hopefully, this passion also helps to change people’s attitudes and encourages them to be kinder to one another. As our soccer team demonstrated, united Argentinians can achieve anything. 

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¡Hola! Soy Melany

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I’m so happy you’re here! My name is Melany and I help language learners speak Argentine Spanish. I primarily teach Argentine slang and idioms, how to sound more natural and to speak Spanish with confidence.

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