Last week, we covered Landon Donovan’s “Gana Gol” commercial for Mexican TV, noting that LD mutters something under his breath as he retreats from the ‘border guard’ near the end of the ad.
We thought it might’ve been “cero,” a shortening of “dos a cero,” and a possible reference to the U.S.’s 2-0 win over Mexico in the 2002 World Cup, but handsome and talented reader Carlos has chipped in with a correction: What Lando says under his breath as he walks away is … “ulero” (sometimes rendered as hulero), a chant commonly heard in Mexican soccer stadiums.
So what does ulero mean? Turns out that’s a little mysterious, as the video below illustrates.
With help from a team of international consultants, we’ve pieced together a rough translation.
First, the literal definition of the word: hulero: rubber; or, rubber tapper, a collector of rubber.
Now on to our panel:
Kristina from Colorado: “I think you have to be Mexican to understand this reference. It’s slang, certainly. Literally, an hulero is a person who works with rubber (hule is slang for condoms in some places). From what I gather, it’s pejorative. In the clip above, an “hulero” can be the referee, a player who misses a goal, or the fan behind you who throws trash at your back.* The reporter asks one group of fans what an “hulero” is and they adamantly insist that it isn’t anyone from their team. It may also be a play on the word culero, which is a slur for homosexual.”
Senor Man from Manhattan: “It’s a putdown, but only a mild one, a lighthearted one. The actor Victor Garcia, in his second time on camera in the clip above, he says, ‘The guy who throws a bag of urine at the stadium? He’s an hulero!’ But as far as a strict definition for this, you got me. It’s slang, and it could mean different things to different people in different regions.”
Guillermo from Brooklyn: “I think this term is a play on culero, which means a**hole, or in some cases, a slur for gays. It seems kind of like a softer version of Rangers fans chanting ‘a**-hole, a**hole’ at Madison Square Garden.”
So there you have some theories; we’re getting close. If you have some insight on ’ulero, please share it in the comments.
*Donovan, remember, was pelted with debris at Azteca as he lined up a corner kick during the U.S.-Mexico World Cup qualifier this past August: