Know the Field! Soccer Positions in Spanish
If you’re a soccer fan, odds are that you know already the soccer positions well. But, do you know them in Spanish?
Read on to find out about the soccer culture in Latin America—and why you should learn about soccer positions in Spanish. Then, I’ll introduce you to useful soccer terms in Spanish, including soccer positions, sections of the field, and equipment.
Are you ready to score a goal?
Soccer Culture in Latin America
You may have heard that the cultura del fútbol or “soccer culture” is a big deal in Latin America, with die-hard fans and superstars such as Argentinian idol Diego Armando Maradona.
In some Latin American countries, the passion soccer reaches levels usually reserved for religion, and the feeling for “the beautiful game” is unparalleled.
However, soccer is actually a major sport in many parts of the world, except perhaps in the U.S. So, perhaps the question is, why hasn’t soccer really caught on in the United States?
There are a few theories, but I won’t dig too deep in them. For now, let’s wait for the 2026 World Cup and see how this popular sport is received in the biggest sports market in the world.
Why Learn about Soccer Positions in Spanish?
Learning a language implies learning about many different areas of like and knowledge. Music, math, and soccer are just a few examples. It’s helpful to know specific terms when you’re having a conversation about soccer positions in Spanish.
Plus, by knowing about soccer positions and soccer vocabulary in general, your chances of making friends while in Latin America will grow exponentially. So, let’s learn the basics of the “other football” and try our best to understand what is so great about it that the whole world seems to get crazy about it.
Soccer Vocabulary in Spanish
Like every other sport, soccer has its own unique vocabulary, some of it known by most fans, while other terms are more specific and technical only used by specialists. Let’s learn a few of both categories.
First, I’ll introduce you to the most common soccer positions in Spanish. Then, I’ll explore some not-so-common positions that were in use in the past or are used exclusively by soccer specialists.
Let’s start with the player on whom the whole team depends: the goalie. In Spanish, there are different words for this player.
El arquero, el portero, la guardameta – goalie, goalkeeper
In some countries, they call it el arquero because the person in that position defends the arco or “arch.” In others, it’s the portero because it keeps the portería safe, and finally it’s also known as the guardameta, literally the “goalkeeper.”
El defensa, el defensor – defender
The next ones in the order of soccer positions are the defenders—known in Spanish simply as defensas or defensores.
The central defenders can be either stoppers or líberos depending on their positions, interestingly enough an English and an Italian word. On the other hand, the defenders on the outside are known as laterales or carrileros.
El medio, el mediocampista – midfielder
Now, it’s the turn of the midfielders. In the past, they used to be the most important players on the field, a kind of “soccer quarterback” that distributed the ball, while also scoring goals. That’s how Pelé and Maradona got famous, by playing the central midfielder position known as mediocampista or just medio.
Then, you have two central midfielders, one defensive and one offensive. The defensive one is called medio de contención, while the offensive one medio creativo or simply el diez (the ten), as that’s the number this player traditionally uses in most teams.
el delantero – forward
Moving forward, we get to the forwards or delanteros. These are the players who are expected to score the goals. Hence, they get all the fame and publicity. Think of our modern Ronaldo and Messi.
There are two types of forwards:
- the center forward or centro delantero, who as its name implies plays in the center of the field and for that reason has more possibilities to score goals
- the winger, known in Spanish as extremo, puntero, or interior, who plays on the outside and opens the field to make it easier to score goals as a team.
While they’re not specifically soccer positions, let’s learn now about other important participants of the beautiful game.
el árbitro – referee
In soccer, the referee doesn’t wear stripes as in (American) football, but he used to always wear a black uniform. Since the 1990 World Cup in Italy, the referee fashion has evolved a bit. They can wear any color not in use by any of the two competing teams. The ref is known in Spanish as el árbitro.
el juez de línea, el abanderado – sideline referee
On the other hand, the sideline referee is known as the juez de línea or abanderado (or guy with the flag). They’re mostly responsible for upholding the offside rule.
Other important participants in every soccer match are el entrenador, el director técnico – coach
el preparador físico – trainer
el suplente – substitute player
el capitán – captain
Let’s focus now on the field and its different sections.
The goal is known as la portería or el arco. The goal posts are called los postes or los palos, and the cross bar is known as el larguero or el travesaño. La red is the net.
The small rectangle closer to the goal, known in English as the goal area or goal box, is called the área chica or área de meta in Spanish.
The larger rectangle still near the goal is known as área grande or área de penal, which in English is the penalty area.
Other important sections of the field include:
el tiro de esquina – corner
la línea de medio campo – midfield line
la línea de banda, la línea lateral – sideline
As important as the different soccer positions is the soccer equipment. Let’s learn the most indispensable pieces of equipment in Spanish.
la pelota, el balón – ball
el silbato – whistle
los botines – soccer shoes
los tacos, los taquetes – studs
las espinilleras, las canilleras – shin guards
la camiseta, el jersey – t-shirt
los pantalones cortos – shorts
los guantes del portero – goalkeeper gloves
la tarjeta amarilla – yellow card
la tarjeta roja – red card
¡Mete un Gol en Español!
Talking about sports is an excellent way to socialize and make new friends. Score a goal in Spanish and impress your friends with your knowledge of soccer positions and other soccer terms in Spanish.
Sign up for a free class with one of our certified, native Spanish speaking teachers from Guatemala and start speaking about soccer positions in Spanish today!
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