Watching the World Cup on Spanish TV: A Cultural Eye Opener

Posted: June 17, 2010 in Football, Life, Spain, Tenerife, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Two easy ways for a quick insight into a country you’re unfamiliar with are to visit the local supermarket and to watch its national TV.

I know I bitch and moan a lot about Spanish TV, but: –

  1. I believe I’m performing an important public service for anyone thinking of moving to Tenerife or Spain and…
  2. It really deserves all the bitchin’ it gets.

The World Cup is an ideal example and national TV coverage is quite illuminating.

Firstly, whilst most of Europe is able to watch every game on free-to-air TV, Spanish TV are only screening 24 matches. 16 on Cuatro and 8 on Telecinco.

During the qualifying groups Telecinco are only screening football matches which involve Spain.

For football lovers like me and Andy, the internet is a gift from a technologically advanced god. But as well as actually being able to see all the games we want to see, comparing coverage between British and Spanish TV has been fascinating.

For a start, until Spain kicked a ball in the tournament, Spanish TV’s coverage had consisted of broadcasting the game just as it was about to kick-off and stopping within seconds of the final whistle.

When the first game of the tournament was about to kick-off and the host country’s national anthem was being played, Spanish TV in a display of rudeness, ignorance, disrespect or stupidity, switched to the adverts.

Yesterday was Spain’s first match and the World Cup started for Spanish TV. Suddenly, nearly a week into the competition, there were World Cup programmes featuring third rate celebrities wearing the Spanish strip and even highlight shows.

As I watched a group of eejits pretending they were interested in football just to get their mugs on the telly, I turned up the sound on the computer to listen to the British coverage at half time.

I was quite overcome with emotion as I listened to black South Africans recount stories about Soweta and the atrocities carried out under apartheid, and watched footballers visiting orphanages they’d help sponsor. In the studio, groups of ex footballers mainly from Britain, but also from France, Holland, Germany and Africa spoke not only about football, but about what hosting the World Cup meant to South Africa. Other former footballers reported on games from poor townships, bantering with local children who clearly were delighted to be visited by their heroes.

And therein lies a difference which speaks volumes.

The coverage I’ve watched on the BBC is about more than just a game, it’s about an event which captures the imagination of the World and is evidence of the realisation of a nation’s dream. It makes you realise that the World Cup is something very, very special.

On Spanish TV, the World Cup is simply about Spain.

I’ve got a message for Spanish TV programmers nicked from Bono, Geldoff et al:

“There’s a world outside your window…”

Go look at it from time to time.

  1. hey guys i try to find it this tv but cannot loading in this website, do i miss something?

  2. islandmomma says:

    Not being a soccer fan, I didn’t know all this. As homework, I’ve asked some ESL students to write a piece about the World Cup (I’ve been taking a news story each week so this week what else could I choose?!). I suggested that if they are not soccer fans (this is two young ladies) they could write about what else the competition signifies, expecting them to write something like your comments above. Now I am wondering what I will get! It’s going to be interesting to see how different their view is!

    • dragojac says:

      That’ll be really interesting. I’d love to know what they write about. In the time I’ve been here there’s been a couple of times that Canarios have actually said to me that, in general, Canarios aren’t particularly interested in, or aware of what’s going on elsewhere. So it’ll be fascinating to see your students’ take on the World Cup.

  3. islandmomma says:

    It was interesting, but I remembered afterwards that one of them is Polish originally, not Spanish, so her views are very different. The other day in conversation she told us a little about life in Poland when she was a child, and her friend was amazed, she knew nothing, but then, since Spain wasn’t actively involved in WW2, and since information was so restricted by Franco, I suppose their perception of the consequences is also different.

    The Spanish girl wrote a very good piece about S Africa, which I think she had researched on the Web, so even if TV didn’t inform her I did :=) But it was the sort of thing you’d find on the CIA Factbook or somewhere similar, no human interest stuff.

    I am thinking this attitude is a hangover from Franco, this lack of curiosity. It certainly doesn’t stop any of my friends from being interested in what’s happening in the world, but I’ve often noted a failure to know how to go about getting information in the past.

    That said, I think if I went down to an English bar in Los Cristianos when they are watching a game, and asked them what they know about S Africa their perception would be limited too!

    • dragojac says:

      Interesting. Like you I’ve wondered whether this ‘lack of curiosity’ was a legacy from Franco’s time. Maybe attitudes and a more outward looking approach will change with new generations.

  4. islandmomma says:

    It’s my theory. I certainly know people who have much more of a world view. Teachers need to be that kind of person in order to pass it on though.

    BTW CNN+ did an interesting little segment on S Africa yesterday – perhaps they read you :=) Am going to ask the girls to translate your paragraph there where you describe watching the program you watched, and see what they say.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s