Wednesday, April 18, 2012

El Clásico – more than just football rivalry between two Spanish giants

El Clásico, the much-awaited clash between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona is happening on April 21. The meeting between these two very successful Spanish football clubs has been dubbed as one of the greatest sporting events in the world. It is in fact the world’s most followed football match, with hundreds of million people watching. But this is just not about which one is the best team or which team is the richest, although of course, that plays a big part. The rivalry between these two actually started in the 1930s and was originally politically motivated. It was also about nationalism and about language.

Barcelona is the capital of the Catalan region, Catalonia, while Madrid is the capital of Spain. Barcelona is Catalonia’s symbol of identity and pride, whereas Madrid and fascist dictator Francisco Franco wanted a centralized Spain and considered Barcelona a lowly region. Barcelona has its roots and history in Catalan culture and the residents do not want to be disassociated with it, contrary to the edict of Franco, who even forbade the use of other languages in Spain and Catalonia other than Castilian or Spanish. Up to this day Catalan is widely spoken in Catalonia, aside from Castilian.

And so, the city of Madrid and the football team Real Madrid, established in 1902, were cossetted by Franco’s government. When Castilian was officially recognized as the only language to be spoken in Spain, it was only at the football club of Barcelona, which was founded in 1898 and therefore a bit older than Real Madrid, where Catalan was spoken, among a few other places. The Barcelona residents were also strongly opposed to Franco’s dictatorship and tried real hard to maintain their independence and separate identity.

Lionel Messi in the Match FC Barcelona and Osasuna in Barcelona, Catalonia 2011.    
But try as it might Barcelona had to face some harsh realities. The team lost to Real Madrid by 10 points with a score of 11 to 1 in a game in 1941, or rather, they were advised to lose on purpose. And the players were fined and suspended because of that loss, which definitely added insult to injury.
The first five European Cups were won by Real Madrid and the rivalry between the two teams continued. But then again, Barcelona bounced back and was the team to dislodge Real Madrid from the European Cup in 1961 and the Barça fans crowed. Now the real game’s on as the rivalry escalated to a higher level. The boat rocked again in favor of Real Madrid in 2002 during the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League. Camp Nuo, the venue for this (2012) year’s El Clásico, was also the venue back in 2002 when Real Madrid won the first leg with 2-0, with the third game ending in a tie.

José Mourinho 
Player switches became part of the great rivalry between these two great Spanish football clubs. While there were only 12 players to date who have transferred from Madrid to Barça, with 3 directly transferring and 9 playing for other teams before joining Barcelona, there were a total of 21 players from Barcelona that switched to Madrid through the years, with 17 directly transferring. One of the first disputes arose during the disputed signing of Alfredo Di Stéfano, an Argentinian player who was playing for Bogota’s Club Deportivo Los Millionarios in the 1950s. Barcelona and Real Madrid both wanted to sign Di Stéfano but due to some misunderstanding and confusion, both clubs claimed that they had signed the player.

Josep Guardiola
With FIFA’s intervention, the two clubs were supposed to share the player equally. However, Franco prevailed on the president of team Barcelona, who was appointed by him in the first place. Di Stéfano thus became officially a member of the Real Madrid football club. And he was instrumental in the club winning those initial five European Cups. Ronaldo was another player who switched in recent times but the most controversial was the transfer of Luis Figo to Real Madrid in 2000. While Ronaldo’s reason was that he was unhappy with the club, Figo’s reason was monetary. It was reportedly a record fee, one of the highest in the world. Barça’s fans showed their disgust, with a fan even going to the extent of throwing a pig’s head at Figo.

Some other incidents showed the strength of the rivalry that started as a political maneuvering to nationalism and cultural identity and language, to a sporting rivalry that seems to see no end. Di Stéfano ended up playing for Real Madrid due to some political machinations, while David Beckham was signed up by Real Madrid just because they wanted to prevent Barcelona from getting him.

Barcelona may not have the luck during the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League in 2002 but the team emerged the victor in The Clásico of 2005, with a score of 3-0. And this time, even the fans of Real Madrid cheered and gave a standing ovation for the Barcelona player who starred in the game, Ronaldinho, just like what they did for Diego Maradona years before.

Many things happen within these two clubs that fan the rivalry to greater heights and the supporters of these opposing teams provide additional fire that generates more heat. Whatever happens to El Clásico on April 21 and in other meetings between these two great teams, one thing is certain – they need each other. The rivalry is there to keep them on their toes, or more realistically on their boots and ensuring that each team performs to the highest level. They feed off each other’ strengths and weaknesses and assure the millions of fans around the world of one great show. As the rivalry was then as it is now, it goes beyond the mere display of football prowess. It can be defined as a clash between the oppressed and those that had freedom; a fight for equality and of defining a Castilian or a Catalan.

Whoever comes out the victor in this classic clash, the game is expected to showcase the brilliance of the players as individuals and as a team, the passion of the supporters and the spectacle of having two of the world’s best football teams play with all their heart and might.

A lot of people at Day Translations, Inc., World Interpreting, Inc. and Your Spanish Translation may be fans of El Clásico. Whether they are on the side of Real Madrid or Barcelona, they will be there to help you in your translating or interpreting needs, 24/7. Contact them through their website for 100% accurate translation and interpretation services. 

Photo Credits:
Josep Guardiola from Wikimedia Commons

1 comment:

man united shirt said...

I love watching European cup. My favorite team is manchester. I always wear man utd shirt when man united goes to battle.