The stereotypes are true: I am Argentinean and I absolutely love soccer. The World Cup is one of my favorite events ever, and I’ve been glued to the TV watching the games and hoping that my bracket is accurate. Even my nails are currently light blue in honor of the albiceleste (the Argentinean national team).
This year is my first time watching the World Cup outside of Argentina — I was at camp with no wifi in 2018, and this year I’m at school in Gainesville, Florida — and I was already dreading the lack of spirit, especially being away in college. However, as soon as I put on Telemundo I was pleasantly surprised to hear a familiar tone and style narrating the games. It was an Argentinean, it had to be. However, I did not bother to look up who it was.
A couple of days after, out of sheer curiosity, I searched if there were any Jewish players participating (as one does). While I was disappointed to find that there are not many Jewish players, I discovered that the voice that had given me that warm feeling belonged to Argentinean Jew Andrés Cantor. Knowing that he was Jewish inexplicably filled me with joy. There are really not that many of us in the U.S.; only about 4% of the Jewish population identifies as Hispanic. Being a Hispanic Jew in America means answering lots of questions about my identity. Jewish people and Hispanics alike often do not understand how someone can be both — even though Argentina has the seventh-largest Jewish population in the world.
In my excitement of finding a famous Argentinean Jew, I kept reading and researching Cantor, and I realized that he is a very big deal. While you might not know what Cantor looks like, you would without a doubt recognize his voice. He is the one that popularized the long “goooooal” announcement in the U.S. Since then, he has won five Emmys and been featured as a character in “The Simpsons.” His play-by-play is iconic, and his on-air analysis is unparalleled. Cantor’s vivid narration and love for the sport set him apart in the U.S. where soccer was just starting to become popular.
the goat Andres Cantor calling Messi's goal just fits pic.twitter.com/XuLXIyYuks
— amadí (@amadoit__) November 26, 2022
I also saw a lot of myself in his story. Cantor was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina (like me!) and we both moved to the U.S. when we were teens. His descriptions of having to adapt to fit in also resonated.
In an interview with Infobae, Cantor admits that while he sometimes tries to avoid some of the lunfardo (Buenos Aires slang) during transmissions, he does not hide his Argentinean accent. (For context, Argentineans have a distinct accent compared to most other Spanish-speaking countries.) When he speaks in English, Cantor admits he has an accent (like me!) and talks about his nervousness when reporting the Olympics in Sydney despite having lived in the U.S. for a long time.
While Cantor was the one that introduced this style to the U.S., Argentina has a long-standing culture of passionate soccer narrators such as José María Muñoz and Víctor Hugo Morales. Growing up, I would spend Sunday night drives listening to the national league in the car, laughing at the narrator’s jokes and commentary. Even as a little girl, I was drawn to it.
I believe that Argentinean narrators and commentators just have a special something to them. I think that the secret element comes from passion. In Argentina we don’t just watch soccer, we feel it. Our palms get sweaty and our heartbeat speeds up any time a player gets close to scoring. We yell at the refs when we disagree, we gather to watch games and we convene to talk about them.
This love for the sport combined with the fact that we have Messi — aka the best player in the world — makes for a unique World Cup experience. While living in Buenos Aires, I got to see the whole city decked out in white and light blue. Kids get out of school, appointments get moved around. If we score, you hear the horns and screams no matter where you are. It is crazy. Some might say that this attitude is excessive, that it is too much.
But as a (really extroverted) Hispanic Jew, I am somewhat used to feeling like I am too much in certain scenarios. Both cultures are stereotyped as being loud, so imagine what happens when you mix both. Just like my love for soccer, in my case this stereotype is true, and Cantor makes me proud of it. His voice, his adoration for what he does and his volume are what prompted Cantor to succeed. He puts all of himself into every single one of his games. He is a passionate, loud, successful Hispanic Jew — and it makes me feel seen. It makes me feel heard.