Olé, Olé, Olé

"Olé, Olé, Olé" is a chant used in sport. The chant is based on the Spanish "Olé" interjection used to signify approval by the spectators in bullfighting. The popular version of the "Olé, Olé, Olé" chant was first used in a 1985 song written by Roland Verlooven and Grand Jojo called "Anderlecht Champion" as "Allez, Allez, Allez, Allez" in French, but became "Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé" in Spanish in a version titled "E Viva Mexico" created for the Mexico 86 World Cup. This version of the chant quickly spread around the world and chanted by football fans in tribute to a team or a player, and it is now also widely used in other sports as well as in non-sporting events.[1]


There are a number of suggestions for the origin of the word "olé". The word is believed to have originated from Greek ololigi to describe a "ritual cry",[2] which became hispanicized into "olé" meaning "bravo!" and used to express an appreciation of an outstanding performance in Spanish.[3] However, the word is attested to only once in Ancient Greek, derived From verb meaning disastrous, with negative connotations and not used repeatedly as is the current practice, nor are there any records of it ever being used a in a similar fashion to express admiration or satisfaction in Greek the way it is currently used in Spanish.[citation needed] It has also been claimed that it comes from Allah, the Arabic word for God, or wa Ilâh (by God); it was believed that the presence and power of god could be glimpsed through an exceptional performance, for example in a flamenco dance.[3] Antonio Manuel Rodriguez Ramos of University of Córdoba believes that when Flamenco dancers chant the word in cante jondo, they were reciting the beginning of the Shahada (la illaha illa Allah) and that they were performing a Muwashshah.[4][5][6] It is also argued that Muslims in the past and in present day still say "Allah Allah Allah" in a similar manner to Olé Olé Olé for something they seem admirable or praise worthy,[7][8][9][10] and in Sufi Dhikr common in Muslim Spain.[11][12] Yet another suggestion links it to the Spanish word for "hello", i.e. hola, a word also proposed to have come from Arabic. However, both the suggested derivations from Arabic are disputed and they are described by the Spanish Arabist Federico Corriente as "falsos arabismos" (false Arabisms) in his work Diccionario de Arabismos y Voces Afines en Iberorromance.[13][14]

In bullfighting, the word is commonly shouted by the crowds as a cry of approval to cheer on a series of moves (such as chicuelinas and derechazos) performed by the bullfighter, with each move greeted with an "olé".[15] The word is paroxytone, though sporadically it can be oxytone (then written olé).[citation needed] The word has also become associated with other sports since the 20th century.[16] In association football, "Olé" as an interjection as used in bullfighting is believed to be first used in Brazil for Garrincha in 1958.[17] The word may be chanted by a crowd for a team or player who made an exceptional performance, and it may be used to demean the opposition when their own team are passing the ball around after a dominant performance.

An early chant similar to the "Olé, Olé, Olé" chant (sung to a tune rather than the series of isolated spoken exclamations used in bullfighting) was heard in Spain in league game in 1982, and this version quickly spread to other clubs.[18] It was first sung in San Sebastián as "Campeones, hobe, hobe, hobe" (hobe means "the best" in Basque) when Real Sociedad won the 1982 La Liga title,[19] but sung in other parts of Spain as "Oé, Oé, Oé". The current popular version of the "Olé, Olé, Olé" chant was first used in a Belgian song "Anderlecht Champion" initially as "Allez, Allez, Allez, Allez" in French,[20] which morphed into the Spanish "Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé" in a version of the song used for the Mexico 86 World Cup.[1] This version of the chant quickly spread and is now commonly used by fans in association football worldwide; for example, has been used by the supporters of the Republic of Ireland national football team.[21][22] The chant is also used by fans of other sport, such as the hockey team Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre and the Welsh rugby union.[23][24] This chant has also been used in non-sporting events around the world.[1]

Use in musicEdit

"Olé, Olé, Olé (The Name of the Game)"
Single by The Fans
LabelZYX Records
Songwriter(s)Armath – Deja
Producer(s)Roland Verlooven

In flamenco music and dance, shouts of "olé" often accompany the dancer during and at the end of the performance, and a singer in cante jondo may emphasize the word "olé" with melismatic turns.[3][25] In the 1950s, a form of the "Olé" chant was heard in American Television on the sitcom I Love Lucy. Dezi Arnaz chanted "Olé, Olé, Olé" during his song to Babalú-Ayé, an African deity.[citation needed] The song was written by Margarita Lecuona in 1939.[26]

In 1985, Hans Kusters, the head of Belgian music label Hans Kusters Music, asked producer Roland Verlooven and the Belgian singer singer Grand Jojo (Jules Jean Van Obbergen) to write a song for the Belgian football team Anderlecht who were the league champions in the 1984–85 season.[27][28] Verlooven (also known as Armath) and Van Obbergen (Grand Jojo) wrote the song called "Anderlecht Champion" at Grand Jojo's home in Groot-Bijgaarden, and it was recorded both in French and Dutch by Grand Jojo with the players of Anderlecht including the manager Paul Van Himst. The chorus has the line "Allez, Allez, Allez, Allez, We are the champions, We are the champions" in French and English.[20] The song was released that year by Disques Vogue.[29]

The following year, a mariachi version was created called "E Viva Mexico" in support of the Belgian national team at the World Cup in Mexico. A version was recorded by Walter Capiau & De Oranje Duivels in Dutch and a version by Grand Jojo in French.[30] These versions introduced the chant "Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé" in the chorus.[1][31] Belgium performed well at the World Cup to reach the semifinals, and the version by Walter Capiau & De Oranje Duivels peaked at No. 29 on the Belgian chart and it became the No. 1 Flemish song after the World Cup.[32][33] This "Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé" chorus of this song became the chant commonly used all over the world.[1]

In 1987, Roland Verlooven produced an internationally popular version of the chant, "Olé, Olé, Olé (The Name of the Game)". This song was performed by a musical group called "The Fans".[34] The song was released in Spain by label Discos Games, and in Germany by ZYX Records. In Austria The Fans' version reached No. 21 and in Sweden it reached No. 3 in their respective national charts in 1988.[35]

The "Olé, Olé, Olé" song has been covered in 50 countries. In Germany, Tony Marshall sang a German cover in 1986 titled "Wir sind die Champions (olé, olé, olé)".[36] A Portuguese version was recorded by José Rocha for Benfica.[37] In 1988, the Czech songwriter František Ringo Čech wrote lyrics in Czech for "Olé, Olé, Olé (The Name of the Game)", which was recorded as a music video and sung by choir of Czech football players including Antonín Panenka, František Veselý and others.[38] In Japan, the song recorded by The Waves as "We are the Champ 〜The Name of the Game〜" was used as the official anthem for the national team in 1993, and it was also used in the broadcast of the J.League when it was inaugurated that year.[39][37] The Japanese versions have sold over 3 million copies in Japan.[40]

The chorus of the song is "Olé, olé, olé, we are the champions, we are the champions" but has been widely used all over the world as "Olé, olé, olé, olé, we are the champs, we are the champs", losing a complete syllable and note of the song.

The chant is also used in a number of songs. In 1998, Chumbawamba recorded the hit "Top of the World (Olé, Olé, Olé)" which include the "Olé, Olé, Olé" chant.[41] In 1999, the chant was used in the chorus of "¡Olé!" by the Bouncing Souls on their album Hopeless Romantic. In 2009 the chant was recorded by Overtone and Yollandi Nortjie, which was used in the 2009 film Invictus and released in the soundtracks of the film.[42] In 2014, Brazilian Carlinhos Brown used the chant in a World Cup-inspired song called Brasil Brasil.[43]

The chant is sung frequently by the audience, composed mostly of youths and young adults, at the end of Hillsong Young & Free songs.[44]

Coldplay uses the chant during the performance of their song God Put a Smile Upon Your Face in their Live in Buenos Aires album. The band also incorporates the chant into the song "Don Quixote (Spanish Rain)", which was played on the Viva La Vida Tour in Latin America in 2010.[citation needed]

In other sportsEdit

In North America it first became synonymous with the Montreal Canadiens dynasty of the late 70's have used it and has been chanted by Canadian fans for decades since. In the United States, the chant has been used at American football games, and baseball games. New York Mets fans have adapted the chant from "olé" to "José" to cheer for José Reyes. Toronto Blue Jays fans similarly used the chant for José Bautista. Cleveland Indians fans use the chant for José Ramirez. Chicago White Sox fans used the chant for José Valentín in the early 2000s, and have now adapted it for José Abreu.

The chant is also common at WWE events taking place in Europe, Montreal or in the U.S. For example, the chant was heard at the April 8th, 2013 edition of WWE Raw at the Izod Center. The chant was also repeatedly heard throughout the May 4, 2015 telecast of WWE Raw that took place at the Bell Centre in Montreal,[45] as well as the April 30, 2018 telecast of WWE Raw that also emanated from the Bell Centre, when wrestler Seth Rollins, who was the WWE Intercontinental Champion at the time, was greeted by huge cheers and an Olé, Olé, Olé chant before thanking the crowd with “Merci beaucoup” (French for “thank you very much”).It was first heard in wrestling before WWE when Sami Zayn, wrestled in independents as El Generico used it as his intro music.[46]

Montreal-area born WWE star Sami Zayn led the Bell Centre crowd into singing the Olé, Olé, Olé chant during the April 15, 2019 episode of WWE Raw before eventually (kayfabe) turning his back on his hometown fans.[47] It is worth noting that Zayn previously wrestled in the independent circuits as El Generico, a masked luchador character, and he used the Bouncing Souls' "Olé!" as his entrance theme at the time. Fans would often do the chant during his matches, and the chants would follow him into the WWE as well.

During a WWE SmackDown house show at the Place Bell in Laval (a few miles north of Montreal), the fans did the Olé, Olé, Olé chant when Roman Reigns pulled out a hockey goalie stick from under the ring to use as a weapon during his Street Fight match with King Corbin.[48] It is worth noting that Place Bell is also the home arena of the AHL's Laval Rocket, the farm team of the Canadiens.

UFC Fighter Conor McGregor, who is Irish. Often receives this shout during his fights.

The chant has been used for the Argentinian football player Diego Maradona as "Ole Ole Ole Ole, Diego, Diego".[49] Similarly in tennis, fans of the Argentinian player Juan Martin del Potro may chant "Ole, ole, ole – Del-Po, Del-Po" after hard-fought points in a match.[50]

The cheer is also widely used by supporters of college soccer in the United States. This led to the creation of a mascot at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which was named Olé.[51]

When the Wisconsin Badgers football team scores a field goal, fans often sing this chant for player Rafael Gaglianone, who is from Brazil.

A rendition of this song (With lyrics modified by Kemptville, Ontario-born Emily Seguin) was used frequently before games throughout OSU youth soccer leagues across Canada.

The chant was also commonly heard during celebrations for Toronto Raptors players after they had won the 2019 NBA Finals.[52] This marked the first ever NBA title for the team, the first NBA Finals to be held outside of the United States and the first Canadian team to hold an NBA title.

Usage outside sportsEdit

The chant was adapted by protesters during the Romanian Revolution while Nicolae Ceaușescu fled Bucharest as "Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Ceaușescu nu mai e (Ceaușescu is no more)".[53]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e "Canvas brengt jubileumreeks van Belpop". VRT. 30 September 2020.
  2. ^ "Etimologias de olé".
  3. ^ a b c "The Story of Olé". Alta.
  4. ^ http://www.psicoeducacion.eu/psicoeducacion/La%20huella%20andalus%C3%AD%20hoy.doc
  5. ^ "LOS CROMOSOMAS POÉTICOS ANDALUCES". www.papel-literario.com. Retrieved 2021-02-07.
  6. ^ "La huella morisca en la cultura andaluza - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2021-02-07.
  7. ^ Bull, Sara Chapman Thorp (1882). Ole Bull. Houghton, Mifflin.
  8. ^ "More on the Meaning of Olé, from Elizabeth Gilbert". Improvised Life. 2014-03-17. Retrieved 2021-02-07.
  9. ^ Geikie, Cunningham (1888). The Holy Land and the Bible: A Book of Scripture Illustrations Gathered in Palestine. With a Map of Palestine, and 212 Illustrations Reproduced from the Celebrated German Work of Dr. Georg Ebers. John B. Alden.
  10. ^ Crapanzano, Vincent (2021-01-08). The Hamadsha: A Study in Moroccan Ethnopsychiatry. Univ of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-36686-2.
  11. ^ González Costa, Amina; López Anguita, Gracia (2009). Historia del sufismo en al-Andalus: maestros sufíes de al-Andalus y el Magreb (1st ed.). Córdoba: Almuzara. ISBN 978-84-92573-94-3. OCLC 606408848.
  12. ^ Smith, Margaret (1977). Rabi'a the Mystic, A. D. 717-801, and Her Fellow Saints in Islam: Being the Life and Teachings of Rabi'a Al-'Adawiyya Al-Qaysiyya, of Basra, Sufi Saint, Ca. A. H. 99-185, A. D. 717-801, Together with Some Account of the Place of the Women in Islam ... Rainbow Bridge. ISBN 978-0-914198-10-9.
  13. ^ Kaye, Alan S. "Two Alleged Arabic Etymologies". Journal of Near Eastern Studies. 64 (2): 109–111. doi:10.1086/431686.
  14. ^ Corriente, Federico (1999). Diccionario de Arabismos y Voces Afines en Iberorromance (Dictionary of Arabisms and Related Words in Ibero-Romance). Gredo. pp. 485–596.
  15. ^ Frontain, Eick (1966). Farris, J. Kelly (ed.). How to Enjoy a Bull Fight. Hooper Press.
  16. ^ "Desde el vestuario realista salían voces cantarinas de los jugadores que se apuntaban al clarnor popular: «Campeones hobe, hobe, hobe». Lo de hobe se puede traducir por el mejor en la lengua vasca"
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  22. ^ Doyle, John (June 7, 2002). "Green Army conquering with smiles". The Globe and Mail.
  23. ^ "Leafs embarrass Habs 6-0 in fight-filled game". Retrieved Sep 7, 2020 – via The Globe and Mail.
  24. ^ http://montreal.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100420/mtl_habslose_100420/20100420/
  25. ^ Parkinson, Alice (2007). Music. Lotus Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-8189093501.
  26. ^ "Emisora Habana Radio » Margarita Lecuona". www.habanaradio.cu (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  27. ^ "Official Hans Kusters Music website - About us". web.archive.org. May 14, 2008. Retrieved Sep 7, 2020.
  28. ^ "Afscheid van Roland Verlooven, producer met gouden vingers en een neus voor talent en hits in alle talen". Sabam. 3 November 2017.
  29. ^ "Roland Verlooven". Discogs. Retrieved Sep 7, 2020.
  30. ^ "Walter Capiau & De Oranje Duivels". The Originals.
  31. ^ "Grand Jojo - E Viva Mexico". Discogs.
  32. ^ "Walter Capiau & De Oranje Duivels - We Are The Champions - E Viva Mexico". Ultratop.
  33. ^ "10 Vlaams". Ultratop. 12 July 1986.
  34. ^ "The Fans Discography at Discogs". Retrieved Sep 7, 2020.
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  40. ^ "Mais qui est donc Jules Jean Vanobbergen ?". Le Soir. 11 December 2012.
  41. ^ Mark Ellingham; Jonathan Buckley (eds.). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. p. 195. ISBN 9781858284576.
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  43. ^ "Carlinhos Brown - Brasil Brasil (ole ole)". Dutch charts.
  44. ^ Blaine, Lech (May 2020). "Hillsong's strange tides". The Monthly.
  45. ^ Mueller, The Doctor Chris. "WWE Raw Live Results, Reaction and Analysis: Post-WrestleMania 29 Show". Bleacher Report. Retrieved Sep 7, 2020.
  46. ^ Phenomenal Ameer (2018-05-02), Seth Rollins gets the Biggest and Loudest Cheers ever !, retrieved 2019-04-10
  47. ^ "A Moment Of Bliss" With Sami Zayn, retrieved 2020-01-04
  48. ^ RJ (2019-12-29). "#TheBigDog @WWERomanReigns #WWEMontreal #WWELivepic.twitter.com/U6hH946LZb". @SFR_RR_inspired. Retrieved 2020-01-04.
  49. ^ "Ho visto Maradona". Football Italia. 5 July 2014.
  50. ^ "'Ole, ole, ole, Del-Po, Del-Po': How friends' motivation helped in Del Potro's career revival". Scroll.in.
  51. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2011-03-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  52. ^ "House of Highlights on Instagram: "Kawhi really is a fun guy. 🤣 (via @tsn_official)"". Instagram. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  53. ^ Abraham, Florin (2017). Romania since the Second World War : a political, social and economic history. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. p. 113. ISBN 978-1-4725-3218-3.

External linksEdit