Fútbol, Football, le foot or soccer?!?

bicultural sports, multicultural sports, soccer, football, futbol, le foot

Image: Flickr / shawnzrossi

Fútbol, Football, le foot or soccer?!?

By Diana Limongi-Gabriele

Growing up in a Hispanic household, I wasn’t watching “Monday night football” and the Superbowl is only something I remember coinciding with my birthday.  My dad watched fútbol. I remember asking him questions like; what are the rules?  What do they do?  How long does it go for?  I remember watching Maradona, Pele, and el Pibe Valderrama.  I was exposed to a lot of fútbol growing up (as is most of the world!). Since my summers were usually spent in Ecuador, I supported the local team in Guayaquil (Barcelona S.C.) and even went to the stadium a few times to watch the games. As a teenager going to an all-girl school in NYC, we did not have a football culture like the one seen on U.S.  TV shows, so for me, it was all about fútbol.

Soccer, as it is called in the United States, is the sport that has always been a part of my life growing up, and I have to say, I love it.  When I moved to Europe I loved going to bars and watching the games, getting excited about goals, or yelling at the screen because they missed a pass, or worse a GOAL (Note: whereas in the US women play soccer, and perhaps in other countries women are fans of soccer, in France, I found that it’s really a guy sport, so when they see a girl screaming at the TV in a bar, well they just think you’re nuts).

In 2006, I lived in France when it reached the finals of the World Cup, quite an amazing moment. Many believe Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt cost France the World Cup title that year, crowning Italy world champion.

Football (as most of the English-speaking world calls it) was invented by the British, perhaps one of the reasons why the United States looked to create new sports, marking a break from its colonizers (total guess on my part)?  In any case, American football, what the U.S. calls football, was never a part of my life growing up.  I don’t think I have ever watched a game in its entirety, I have never been to a real live fame, and until recently I did not understand the rules (I still don’t fully understand it, to be honest).  I guess this is just part of my upbringing, since no one watched it at home or play football in school. It is also an example of what it is like to live within dual worlds, as many Hispanics do.

French, American, Latino Sports!

Now that I have a son, I have been thinking about soccer, football, sports and what it all means.  I guess these thoughts are inevitable when you are raising a multicultural child. Being a French-American and Latino kid, he will be more exposed to “le foot” / fútbol than most of his friends will be.  I will have to rely on my American friends (and tio Andres?) to explain who the Giants are and what they do, how you play the game, and how American football is different from what his Abuelo and Papa watch on tv.  To explain that what they call Soccer here in the U.S., his dad will probably explain to him “is really called football”.  I can’t wait for him to learn more about soccer (he already watches it with his Papa, and says GOL!) and to play soccer.  He will grow up by default to be an “Olympique de Marseille” supporter (French Ligue 1 team) just like his Papa.

Soccer – The Next Great American Sport?

My hope is that soccer will be a lot more popular in the United States when he grows up and there’s hope!  Rich Luker, a social scientist, believes soccer is just one generation away from being a main sport in the United States. This news shouldn’t be surprising, with the rising number of Hispanics and diverse communities in the United States who adore soccer. There are signs that soccer is gaining popularity, and it is good for the economy!  There are soccer schools popping up all over country.  MLS teams are gaining in popularity (ahem, thank you David Beckham!  We will miss you).

In July, over 38,000 people went to see two top European teams (Chelsea and Paris St. Germain) play in Yankee Stadium. In August, we battled rain and thunderstorm to see Ecuador beat Chile 3-0 in a friendly game at Citifield.  There were over 30,000 people in the stadium!

I love the thrill of watching fútbol when a team I love is playing!  If you’re wondering what team I support, when France is playing, it’s France for my hubby, and when Ecuador is playing, I will support my parents’ land, but if the USA is playing either of those teams, it’s USA all the way!

It will be interesting to see what my son learns to love, especially when he enters school and his friends talk about other sports like baseball, football, basketball.  For us, soccer will be a way to keep our Hispanic and French cultures alive, which is important to both my husband and I.

I would love to know your thoughts!  Did you experience this with any sport growing up? If you’re a momma or papa that loves soccer, let me know!  (David Beckham anyone?)  If you are raising bicultural/multicultural kids and this rings a bell, I’d love to hear from you!  Any other sports you’re teaching your kids?  Tweet me @dianalimongi  or leave a comment below!  Gracias!


Diana Limongi-Gabriele head shot hispanic marketing mainstream television bicultural latinos nytimesDiana Limongi-Gabriele is an Ecuadorian-American New Yorker. Her love for all things multicultural started when she studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France … so much so that she brought a French hubby back with her! She is mommy to Enzo, a French/Hispanic/European/American (one day trilingual) 16 month old boy. She works hard juggling a full-time job, motherhood, family, grad school and her blog: Ladydeelg.tumblr.com where she writes about issues she is passionate about, including teaching her son Spanish, parenting, Latino issues, food, travel and motherhood. She has contributed to SpanglishBaby and Multicultural Familia, and also shares her posts on Momsrising.  Follow her on Twitter: @dianalimongi.

This post originally appeared on LadydeeLG’s Tumbler blog.



  1. says

    Great article! I am impressed you braved the Guayaquil soccer stadium as a teenage girl! I always wanted to go in my time living there–all my friends were diehard EMELEC fans– but none of them would take me to the stadium–too dangerous, too crazy, etc they always said.

    I am married to a football (soccer) enthusiast from Morocco and as a result, I don't think our girls even know what American football is yet. We enrolled them for the first time in a football (soccer) (even as an American it's hard to call it soccer when the rest of the world calls it football!) class last summer but as it turned out, they didn't like playing it much on a team. They love watching their dad play on Saturday mornings though.

    And thanks Chantilly for linking to incultureparent's soccer article too- Want to Raise a Global Citizen? Follow Soccer!

    • says

      hi Stephanie, i read and really enjoyed the article on IncultureParent! Soccer is truly a global sport!

      as for the stadium, i went to the part upstairs, the suites that look like little rooms… i guess it is more secure than where the crowds are! I bet that part is indeed too crazy and too dangerous!

  2. says

    I love this post Diana! This is something I've also thought about with my daughter. In our house we love football and soccer, but we do have to explain both on either side of our family…lol. Hubby's side doesn't get why football is so popular, my side thinks soccer isn't a real sport, etc. Both sides have come around enough to take an interest in each sport though, which is cool. ;) Great post chica!!