Day 6

How an eccentric Spanish soccer show won Europe's player transfer window

The annual soccer player transfer window closed this week for most of Europe's top leagues. The period saw the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo move teams among other surprising transfers — and following along with over-the-top commentary was El Chiringuito de Jugones.

El Chiringuito combines soccer programming, reality TV and pub conversations into one show, says podcaster

From presenter Josep Pedrerol's (left) 'Tic tac' to the Kylian Mbappé clock, El Chiringuito's coverage of this summer's transfer window was even crazier than the window itself. (El Chiringuito de Jugones/ATRESMEDIA)

When soccer journalist Rik Sharma moved from London to Barcelona in 2014, he needed a way to both learn Spanish and understand the soccer culture in Spain.

So when looking for TV programs to satisfy his needs, he discovered El Chiringuito de Jugones, a Spanish soccer show that airs midnight from Sunday to Thursday.

"For a while, it was great to watch because it really drew me into the world of Spanish football, and because it's so trashy and so easy to consume," Sharma, co-host of the podcast Siempre Positivo, told Day 6.

El Chiringuito, as it's commonly known, is not the average sports analysis show, though. From loud debates, to cinematic close-ups and sound effects, to panellists singing songs after major soccer news breaks, El Chiringuito personalities make North America's most bombastic sports presenters appear subdued.

As Sharma describes it, the show is more like a reality TV show or pub conversation featuring "a collection of borderline maniacs" than a serious soccer show. "The name itself means 'beach bar', and that's exactly the kind of style of debate," he said.

The show's cast revel in the infamy, according to Sharma. Josep Pedrerol, El Chiringuito's main presenter, will often boast about the show's reach — and share memes of himself for fans to enjoy.

The show is not entirely over the top, however. El Chiringuito's cast includes former professional soccer players like Jorge D'Alessandro, as well as accredited journalists with years of experience.

They're also known for breaking the odd big story. In April, Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez appeared on El Chiringuito to announce the formation of the European Super League. It was an ambitious, poorly-received proposal that would've seen 20 of Europe's elite soccer clubs play in an annual continental competition. 

"The idea that he would go on this show to announce something that could change the face of football forever was a joke because it's a bizarre show," Sharma said.

Spanish journalists Tomás Roncero, left, and Josep Pedrerol, pictured in 2012. They're two of El Chiringuito's most famous — and most animated — personalities. (Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images)

Though El Chiringuito has been well known within soccer circles for years, the show reached a new level of popularity in this summer's annual transfer window.

As the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo swapped old clubs for new ones, El Chiringuito dedicated segments to their moves, such as calling on Barcelona citizens to protest Messi's departure from FC Barcelona in the streets.

"The world wants things to get bigger and bigger and bigger every year … and El Chiringuito has done that," Sharma said. "They've got all kinds of crazy lighting arrangements, video arrangements, musical arrangements, and it's just like the Super Bowl [half-time show]."

I've never seen anything like it in any kind of sports coverage before- Rik Sharma

But their most surprising segments were dedicated to a player who didn't even move teams. When Real Madrid were linked with Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappé, the show dedicated over-the-top segments to the young French phenom.

This includes chasing newspaper drivers in France for updates on a potential move, hiring a body language expert to deduce whether Mbappé wanted to leave PSG, and even producing a music video about Mbappé, which they played to the cast during the show.

And to top it off, Sharma said they counted down to the end of the transfer window with a giant clock featuring "Mbappé's head and torso as the hands moving around the clock, and [El Chiringuito presenter Josep] Pedrerol is in the front saying, 'Tic tac, tic tac.'"

"I've never seen anything like it in any kind of sports coverage before — if you can even call it sports coverage," said Sharma.

Written and produced by Mouhamad Rachini

Hear full episodes of Day 6 on CBC Listen, our free audio streaming service.

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