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Castilian Oppression v Catalan Nationalism – “El Gran Classico”

2 September 2009 by

Peace and tranquillity are usually traits that can be found in abundance throughout Spain. However, twice a year “El Gran Classico” divides two cities over politics, nationality, class and sporting fanaticism.

Real Madrid: The club of the cigar smoker. Every banker, rich businessman and anyone of financial importance is a member. Some bring cushions to matches to avoid the potential stiffness of placing their backside on a hardback seat. On the outside the club always appears to have a mountain of debt. But don’t let that fool you! Real Madrid has so much economical and social significance that it wouldn’t make sense to place them in jeopardy. They are the epicentre of Castilian society, where the capital’s elite meet to wind down from the daily traumas of running the country and converse about former days of fascism and right-wing politics.

Barcelona: The ultimate symbol of Catalan nationalism. In a region that has longed to break free of Spanish oppression, FC Barcelona has given its people a collective voice. That voice has turned this sporting institution into an international phenomenon that has fascinated the world with the cause of the Catalan people. “Mes Que un Club” (More than a Club) is the motto the club affectionately goes under, which stems from the politics and unity that the club has created beyond the football.

It goes without saying that Real and Barca are Spain’s two most successful clubs. Animosity between them can be traced back to 1936 when Barca club President, Josep Sunyol, was murdered by Francoist troops. Each year his death is remembered by FC Barcelona delegates with propaganda of an anti-Francoism and anti Real Madrid nature.

Tensions reached boiling point in 1943. Drawn together in the Kings Cup semi-final Barcelona won the first leg 3-0. However, with Madrid engaging excessive force into their tackles, the Catalan crowd began to boo. Seen as the club of the Spanish regime, it was taken with such insult that the Barca players were paid a visit by the Director of Spanish State Security before the return leg. Whatever was said, Barca were 8-0 down by half-time and ended losing 11-1. Despite a period of sustained success during the Franco regime, Barcelona can point to a long list of blatant referee malpractice that infiltrated further triumph.

However, although politics are the main reason that fuel this bitterest of rivalries, there are plenty of other factors that have contributed to the unending hatred. Luis Figo made mans biggest decision when he decided to swap maroon for white. When Figo returned to the Nou Camp three months after the most notorious transfer in Spanish football history, he was met by a barrage of abuse – which also included three mobile phones, a few half-bricks, a bike chain and a pig’s head. In signing for Real, he counter-signed a death wish with Catalunya. The great Alfredo Di Stefano also chose Real over Barcelona in the fifties. This decision was the catalyst that saw “Los Blancos” lift the first five European Cups.

In competing first and foremost with each other, and then with the rest of Europe, Barca and Real have paid well over the odds for the best players and completely skewed the world transfer market which has now had enough and is on the point of crashing. The rivalry remains as fierce as it ever was. And with Real breaking the bank in an attempt to gain equilibrium with Barca’s treble winners, it’ll take an entertaining hobby to divert attention from “El Gran Classico”.

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  • ramadan

    real de dya

  • liam

    is rite

  • Juan

    It would be great to know how Spain is supposed to “oppress” Spaniards from Catalonia…

  • robert

    i think this is the best one i like

  • feonizm

    Si hay un clásico partido real Galatasaray Fenerbahçe – viva galatasaray-

  • juandeful

    Fantastic article. The Barca Real rivalry cannot be matched in world football, because of how far it goes off the pitch. And El Classico certainly promises to be an interesting match this year.

  • youssef

    despite of all these facts, real madrid stays the greatest soccer team in spian and the world.and with morinho, it will cross all limits.

  • Antoni

    Congratulations, that article descrives perfectly the essence of the FC Barcelona meaning as a substitute for the National Selection that Catalans still don’t have (because the Spaniards do not allow us).

    This is why Barça is more than a club and why Barça-Madrid is more than a football match: it’s Catalonia vs Spain.

    Just one little puntualization: The article refers to Catalonia as a “region” that has longed to break free of Spanish opression; it might be more accurate to reffer to it as a “stateless nation” that has longed to break free of Spanish opression.

    Thanks for the article.

    Força Barça, and freedom for Catalonia!

  • Ruben

    Article full of stereotypes to perpetuate the image of an oppressed catalonia, which is false, as prove the fact that is one of the richest regions of Spain. All the spaniards sufferd the dictatorship including the Real Madrid fans, The president of the Real Madrid during the civil war was killed for the fascist troops as well for support the communist party. Also in the hardest and represive years of the dictatorship, the decade of 40, Barcelona was the most succesfull club and won the biggest number of competitions in the spanish football .

  • AJAX

    Glad that Ruben put a sense of sanity in this mythology. Barcelona has fans all over spain that arent nationalist of any kind. I may ad that its ironic that the richest part of spain could consider itself as opressed, thats insulting to other opressed peoples like Birmanians or Jews for example.

    I think this mythology has been promulgated by Barcelonas dirigents, they wanted to sell Barcelona as a revelius club with the point of selling their brand an also inspire catalan nationalism, an inmoral behaviour in my view given the fact that a club full of foireing players cant name itself as representative of any country of community.

    In the end, this kind of propaganda doesnt come from madrid fans, all the animosity between the clubs comes from Barcelonas point of view and all the stories come from Barcelonas side, because they have painted their history with a sense of victimhood that has nothing to do with reality.

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