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I have heard Spaniards singing

"Oe oe oe oe oe, ... oeee, ... oeee"

in soccer and other sports.

Where does this expression come from? Is it a Spanish expression?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

A simple search on Google for "Olé, Olé, Olé, football chant" or "olé spanish meaning" should lead you to this:

One evidence of the chant appeared in an article of the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia from 1982. It was during the final match of the Spanish Football League that year. After Real Sociedad had been proclaimed champion, the people at the Atotxa Stadium in San Sebastián started to sing "Campeones, campeones, hobe, hobe, hobe", which literally means "Champions, champions, we are the best". The latter three words belonging to the Basque language. The chant expanded to the rest of Spain, and become known as "Oé, Oé, Oé".

The word "olé" itself, being a Spanish interjection thought to be of Arabic origin, or derived from the Germanic in the Iberian peninsula, from which it also derives the English Hello and the neighbour Portuguese Olá, mostly associated with the bullfighting of last centuries, but also with the sports after the XIX century. It was chanted when individuals seemed to rise above themselves in performance.

The chant is used frequently in football games around the world, and can be heard in Montreal Canadiens hockey games when the team is winning. It is also used by supporters of the University of California, Santa Barbara's Gaucho intercollegiate sports teams, particularly the basketball and soccer programs, and led to the creation of a mascot, simply named Olé.

It is also used by the supporters of the Republic of Ireland national football team, especially in the song "Put 'Em Under Pressure".

In Argentina, sometimes the name of a person the people could be cheering to is added at the end; e.g.: "Olé, olé olé ole, Die-go, Die-go! (referring to Diego Armando Maradona).

Update

Here are some aclarations to make:

1. Its "Olé" and not "Oe" as some may claim

From the same wikipedia page:

Olé, Olé, Olé (The Name of the Game)

In 1987, Roland Verlooven produced a more popular version of the chant, "Olé, Olé, Olé (The Name of the Game)". It was recorded by a group known as "The Fans", and published by Hans Kusters Music. It was released in Spain by Discos Games, and in Germany by ZYX Records. The text of it goes "Olé, olé, olé, olé, we are the champions, we are the champions", but there are widespread misunderstandings of it rather being "...we are the champs, we are the champs" by many who have simply not heard and understood the lyrics correctly.

Link to the original song: -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0GmxnlXv3s

2. Context of the chant

Top of the World (Olé, Olé, Olé)

"Top of the World (Olé, Olé, Olé)" is a stand alone single from Chumbawamba. It was released in June 1998, and the single reached the number 21 in the UK Singles Chart. It was also featured as the UK's song on the World Cup 1998 compilation album Music of the World Cup: Allez! Ola! Ole!. Their 1997 album Tubthumper was re-issued with this song on the album.

3. Open ears!!!

Quote by comments on this question:

I'm Spanish and the people sing "oé" (NOT Olé) in many chants, for example in this one: youtube.com/watch?v=VJvz9Hpx_ho or in this other one: youtube.com/watch?v=NnXqD7_YnHU When they say Olé is just when your team passes the ball many times and the opponent can't get it as if it was a bullfight. – Javi

Well, the truth is that if you watch both videos using big speaker to amplify the sound you can hear clearly people using chanting Olé, Olé, Olé..., there is also some drunks as well as some others that don't know the full chant, and you can recognize them simply because their chant sounds more like "Oé, oé, Oé...."

That alone don't means that the chant is "Oé, oé, Oé...." or that there are two chants.

I know that for some, search in Google it's incredibly hard and confusing, so here is a direct link to the reference on wikipidia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olé,_Olé,_Olé

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7  
A search in Google for "oe oe oe" does not lead to your result: google.com/search?q=Oe+oe+oe. The Wikipedia article you linked to is for the word olé which in comparison to oe, has an accent on é and and an l. I also think that your comment I know that search in Google it's incredibly hard and confusing was unnecessary. –  user815423426 Jul 2 '12 at 18:23
    
@roseck thats is because you are searching the wrong thing ;) –  user983248 Jul 3 '12 at 6:25
1  
Still, I'm pretty sure that "oe oe oe" is also used in football/soccer chants (although I do not know if it's a derivation of "Olé"). Specially when it is used for completing part of the son as to comply to a specific metric. While "Olé" is sometimes given, unofficially, a cheering significance, "oe" would be purely phonetic filling. Unfortunately, I do not have sources to backup my claim. –  Alpha Jul 4 '12 at 12:56
    
@roseck sorry but in Google the search for "oe oe oe" leads to the same article, in position 8, -> google.ie/… It just depends how do you search and how do you use the search tools. I'ts like any SE site, you need to know what and how to ask in order to get the answer you are looking –  user983248 Jul 5 '12 at 0:09
    
This answer is wrong. Please check the answer by essmussein, where you can find the reference: hemeroteca.lavanguardia.com/preview/1982/04/26/pagina-21/… Beggining of the fourth column, just below "feliz". It's even worse because in the link he provides to the wikipedia is the CORRECT explanation, as indicated in the other answer –  pHonta Mar 25 at 19:07

I don't know the etymology of it, but I'm pretty sure it's "olé", not "oe".

Olé is an interjection that is very typical of the bullfighting. (Well, not that I know anything about bullfighting, but to me "olé" definitely evokes that and other cliches about Spain)

As a side note, there's a sports newspaper in Argentina called "Olé".

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2  
I'm Spanish and the people sing "oé" (NOT Olé) in many chants, for example in this one: youtube.com/watch?v=VJvz9Hpx_ho or in this other one: youtube.com/watch?v=NnXqD7_YnHU When they say Olé is just when your team passes the ball many times and the opponent can't get it as if it was a bullfight. –  Javi Jul 3 '12 at 11:42
    
@Javi. Ah, I see, I've always heard "olé" here (though it sounds like "oé" when chanted by a crowd). It seems it's differnt in Spain. –  Juan Pablo Califano Jul 3 '12 at 12:28
    
@Javi after a few runs of both videos using big speaker you can clearly hear both "oé" and "olé", And to be perfectly onest with you I never heard that chant as "oé" it always was "olé". Furthermore that seems like a variation of the chant in Spain because in Latinamerica you only get the chant with "olé". here is the original version youtube.com/watch?v=L0GmxnlXv3s See updated answer –  user983248 Jul 4 '12 at 23:36
2  
@user983248 It's funny that you hear that because they clearly say oé. The title of the first song of the first video is "A por ellos, oé" (complete lyrics here: musica.com/letras.asp?letra=867779), and the second one is popularly known as "oé, oé, oé, oé" in Spain. Anyway it can be a regional difference, but nowadays in Spain (that is the specific place where the OP is asking about) in these 2 chants the usual interjection is "oé". –  Javi Jul 5 '12 at 8:51

I'm from Spain. It's OÉ.

Oé became from euskera word Hobé and start to be used by the famous player arkonada. You can read that in these article:

http://minchinela.com/blog/2009/01/24/%C2%BFde-donde-viene-el-cantico-de-oe-oe-oe/

Olé it's another thing used by the toreros world.

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+1, the accepted answer is incorrect. –  Darkhogg Mar 25 at 14:04

As essmussein and Javi said it's Oé, oé

Olé, and Ole, are not only used in the world of bullfighting, though, so much so that, in fact it can also be heard in a football match, though it is rare, and it is not chanted in the same way Oé, oé is. Bare in mind that Oé, oé is always sung to the same chant, and is not used outside that scope, nobody shouts a plain to cheer anything.

I didn't know about its apparent etymology, as stated in that article; my guess is everyone here, at least maybe outside of the Basque country, thinks it comes from a relaxed version of Olé. Interesting.

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Olé and Oé are two different expressions, Olé in Spain, Mexico and Latin America is mostly used in bullfighting when the matador does a good pass or series of passes with his cape. While Oé, Oé, Oé is mostly used in supporter chanting at football matches - - - While Olé in Latin countries is also used in football matches when one team threads a series of passes and is dominating the opposing team. It is derogatory and demoralizaing for the rival team to be subjected to this chant.

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