A few years ago, I produced regular articles on La Liga for a website concentrating on Spanish football. I wrote this piece during a short break in Barcelona.
It just so happened that I was in Barcelona during the international break, so I thought it would be an opportunity to see how the Catalans, especially in this time of heightened talk of independence, viewed the Spanish national team. After all, sitting in a bar watching football, can’t be all bad, can it? That’s why the original title for this piece was “An Englishman in Catalunya watching Spain.” That was the theory, anyway.
It’s a game oft-painted with the vivid colours of a cultural conflict played out on a green sward, feeding the hungry passions of people separated by history, but united by desire for gaining an all too brief and surrogated sporting victory. Red and yellow to one side and blood and gold to the other, champions donned in white or claret and blue vie for victory, honour and acclaim. “Mes que un club!” Perhaps. More than a game? Probably. El Clasico is the game that must shout. Born in conflict, intensified by war, it’s the game that cannot forget the past. Continue reading →