“Gooooooooaalll!” Goal calling in soccer is a seminal part of the sport. In Rio de Janeiro, 17-year-old José Carlos Araújo knew he’d have to get a hold on his changing voice if he wanted to be a successful goal caller in Brazil. A friend of his suggested he take up smoking, in a story related by Fernanda Santos in the New York Times. José decided that smoking wasn’t for him, and instead hired a woman who taught German through music to teach him how to sing.
That was fifty years ago.
Now, Araújo is a pivotal goal caller in Brazil.
“When it comes to narrating a goal in soccer, there’s a big dose of artistry involved,” said José Carlos Araújo of Rádio Transamérica.
The goal call in Brazil, “Goooooooool,” is something that goal callers insist they sing. They don’t scream. If you looked at the goal call drawn out on a piece of paper, it would effectively be an arc. Starting with a punctuation at the “G” rising in pitch and volume before dropping again — sometimes close to a minute later — as the goal caller starts to run out of air.
So where does the goal call in soccer come from? In 1946, 14 years after soccer first started being broadcast on the radio in South America, Rebello Júnior, a Brazilian goal announcer, lengthened out his “gol” call until he was out of breath. Why did he do it? Reportedly he simply did it to differentiate himself from the other goal callers… but it caught on.
The elongated goal call has now been adopted in Spain, Germany (where the word for gaol is “tor,” hence, “toooooor!”), across Latin-America, and by Spanish speaking goal callers in the United States.
Here some samples of goal callers from around Brazil:
What Júnior started in the forties as a goal caller — that strange and unique call — is now required of all Brazilian goal callers. If you can’t bellow out the long, arcing goal call with authority, you need not work in the business. Experts say that good goal callers practice their goal calls on a daily basis, and that a necessary requirement of calling a good goal is eight hours of sleep and staying healthy.
Alex Escobar, who is calling his first World Cup, said:
“On days I’m narrating I don’t drink coffee. And the day before, I don’t drink alcohol.”
Goal calling is serious business in soccer. Whether it’s for a neighborhood game in a lot in Sao Paulo or a final in the World Cup. Fernanda Santos, interviewed on the CBC, said:
“For these guys, it’s a real art-form, and they really prepare just like a singer would.”
For some, goal calling isn’t just an art-form, it’s a way of life.