Even if you are no football fan, you will definitely have heard about the rivalry between the two world-class football clubs; Real Madrid FC and Barcelona FC. Have you ever wondered why the national derby is so significant that it is often recognised as the biggest rivalry in the football world?
Real Madrid FC is located in Madrid, the capital of Spain, while Barcelona FC is located in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. Although Catalonia is geographically part of Spain, the two areas speak different languages. Those from Catalonia speak the language Catalan while most Spanish people – by which I refer to those who live in Spain but outside Catalonia – speak the language Spanish. As of the late 20th Century, Catalonia has a stable and booming economy compared to other areas in Spain; thus, Catalans insist that Catalonia should enter the EU Community with its own identity.
Catalans have always striven for Catalonia’s independence. Catalonia was an independent kingdom before 1469, but was regarded as part of Spain after monarchs of the two respective kingdoms got married. This led to the birth of the unified Kingdom of Spain. I will not bore you with history, but there is something you might want to know.
In 1925, Barcelona FC’s fans hissed while the national anthem of Spain was playing during its home game, and the stadium was forced to close down for 6 months by the government. Francisco Franco, the dictator of Spain between 1939 and 1975, who was also a famous football fan of Real Madrid FC, cancelled Catalonia’s autonomy status and prohibited the use of the language Catalan during his ruling. Franco also made an order to reduce the number of Barcelona FC’s fans and to execute Josep Sunyol, Barcelona FC’s chairman at that time, without trial simply because Sunyol supported separatism. Under Franco’s support, Real Madrid successfully signed Di Stefano, the legendary Argentinean footballer who intended to go to Barcelona at first, and came first in the major leagues and championships at that time.
While Real Madrid FC constantly signs world-class players like Zidane, Figo, Beckham and Ronaldo, Barcelona FC insists on using players trained under its youth system which include Puyol, Pique, Messi, Xavi and Iniesta.
The rivalry should continue even after Catalonia’s independence issue is resolved. Who does not love a sequel anyway?