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A Rivalry That Runs Deeper Than Football

The Origins Of El Clasico
The Origins Of El Clasico

A Rivalry That Runs Deeper Than Football

Since its inception over a century ago, El Clasico remains to be one of the most popular grudge matches in the sporting world, with some of the best football players in the world, and more than 500 million viewers on a global scale.

Political Rivalry

The rivalry between the two clubs – Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, runs so deep that the event became politicized, with the former serving as a symbol for Spanish Nationalism, and the latter aligning itself with Catalan identity. Exacerbated by a history of regional conflicts that began in the early 1900s and civil war, no other sporting event has since generated as much emotion, passion, and hatred as the El Clasico.

History

The conflict between the two can be traced back to 1902, with the formation of Real Madrid, then known as Madrid FC. The rivalry worsened in the 1930s, when FC Barcelona, who, back then was a relatively new club, became a symbol to Catalonia and its people, who were opposed to the centralist fascist-like government tendencies of Madrid, the social and political locus of Spain. Under the rule of Miguel Primo de Rivera, the Catalan people were stripped of several freedoms, and showing their support for the football club became a cathartic way to hold on to their identity.

Civil War

The political tensions eventually led to a bloody civil war in 1936. Both sides suffered losses. Josep Sunyol, the president of FC Barcelona, was murdered, and Madrid FC president Rafael Sánchez-Guerra was taken as a prisoner. The war created an unfixable schism between the two that would last through the ages. Each team was considered as a representative of their nation. Barcelona’s motto Més que un clubMore than just a club, is said to have developed during the Francisco Franco dictatorship, as they were seen as a symbol of liberation from and tyrannical government. After the fall of the Franco government in 1975, the amount of oppression died down, but the partisan aura and zealous support for the teams remained.

Even till today, despite several changes to the political and social atmosphere of Spain, the dynamics of El Clasico goes beyond the traditional boundaries of a sporting event.

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