Barcelona came agonizingly close to losing Sunday’s battle against Valencia, and might’ve even ended up losing the war for La Liga with Andrés Iniesta’s knee injury. But it’s never smart to count out Lionel Messi, who stole a victory with a stoppage-time penalty, and said some incredibly rude things to Valencia’s shitty fans along the way.
To set the stage, Valencia had thrown everything they had at Barça all game. The home team went down a goal after Messi got on the scoresheet early on, but Valencia fought back, equalized, and even took the lead about an hour in.
Both teams were desperate for a positive result: Valencia wanted at least a point for their heroic performance, as it would’ve been a powerful sign of the long-awaited light at the end of the tunnel the once proud and prestigious club has been lost in for the past few years; Barça needed a win to prevent yet another slip-up on their shaky start to the La Liga season to keep away all of the stress and controversy and hullabaloo that comes whenever Barça’s players have the audacity to fail to win every single one of their matches. The point being, the stakes were very high.
And so very late into stoppage time, the referee—who had a horrible game in general, screwing both teams but mostly hurting Valencia with his and his assistants’ bad calls—gave Barcelona a justified penalty. Up stepped Messi, who despite usually being a very good penalty taker, has looked a little wobbly at the spot of late. Opposite him stood Diego Alves, the singularly best penalty stopper in the world. In this moment of intense pressure, Messi converted.
Understandably, this was a great relief to the Barça players. Similarly, it was a kick in the groin to Valencia and their fans, the latter of whom have earned a reputation as some of the loudest and most crass in Spain. The Barcelona players celebrated near the goal Messi had just sent the winner into, with the Valencia supporters nearby raining insults down on the players. In the video above, as the camera cuts to the crowd right after the goal, you can see some fans brandishing their middle fingers and yelling “puta,” which, if you don’t already know how that translates into English, we’ll get to that a little later.
In response to those words and gesticulations (and presumably some similar insults he’d heard all game), Neymar returned some of the stick the fans, emerging from the celebration huddle and shouting back at those in the stands. Neymar then returned to the scrum with his teammates. Soon after, some kind of projectile (a water bottle?) was thrown at him from the stands.
Neymar went down in a heap, and a couple other Barça players recoiled in apparent pain. Messi went into action. He walked over to the asshole fans, started yelling and celebrating in front of them, and had to be pulled away by his teammates. A later replay showed one colorful, mom-unfriendly passage of Messi’s retort:
Thankfully, Marca was able to read Messi’s lips and give us a partial translation:
“La concha de sus madres, hijos de puta,” was the common Argentinian expression of frustration that the cameras caught the No.10 shouting, a phrase which roughly translates as “sons of bitches”, although it is a little more vulgar.
Ah, but how much more vulgar, you’re probably wondering? After all, “sons of bitches” is only a translation of the second part of Messi’s statement. “Hijo de puta,” which is also sometimes translated as “son of a whore” or even “motherfucker”—a reflection of puta’s vibrant and versatile array of meanings in Spanish—is a fairly low-stakes insult in most Spanish-speaking countries. In that way it is very similar to the English “son of a bitch.”
The first part, however, is the more interesting phrase. Literally, “La concha de sus madres” translates as “the shell of your mothers.” To learn what’s really going on, we turn to the Wiktionary entry for “conchatumadre”:
A common insult in American Spanish-speaking countries. It means “your mother’s shell (cunt)“, and it’s used as an expression of disgust for the person it is directed towards, by way of blaming his mother of bringing him into the world. It is extremely offensive when used between strangers. It originates from the phrase “de la concha de tu madre” (from your mother’s cunt) which comes from Chile. It may also be spelled conche tu madre.
Here we see that Messi was really doubling down on his disdain for the matriarchs of Valencian families. To be fair to all the moms out there, though, we’re pretty sure that the mothers in question did in fact teach their sons better than to behave so indecorously in public.