Madrid, Wednesday @PeopleSports11
Often symbolised as pitting the pride of Catalonia against Spain’s capital, the El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid is a match laced with political and social as much as sporting tension.
Even more so this week when the sides face off in Madrid on Saturday lunchtime just over 36 hours after polls will have closed in local elections in Catalonia that were called over the crisis caused by the region’s drive for independence.
“They have a very strong ideological connection,” political scientist Pablo Simon told AFP. He added: “On the one side are Real Madrid, who normally can be said to have a more conservative and nationalist fan base.”
By contrast, Simon cites Barca’s “more than a club” motto as being rooted in a sense of Catalan identity. The sights and sounds of their Camp Nou and Santiago Bernabeu stadiums reflect that difference.
In Barcelona, Catalan flags, including the independence-supporting Estelada, are commonly flown, while the crowd at Europe’s biggest stadium chant in favour of independence in the 17th minute of each match to mark the fall of Catalonia in the Spanish War of Succession in 1714.
At the Bernabeu, Spain flags are splattered across the stadium, while cries of “Viva Espana” rang around on October 1 in the hours following a violent crackdown by Spanish police forces on a referendum on independence called by separatists in Catalonia. -AFP