Destello De Azulgrana – Flash of Blue and Scarlet

A world sport such as football often undergoes analysis by many different people and organisations. Trying to understand what makes one team better than another is a task everyone tries to do, and this involves discerning the numerous tactics and play-styles. One such style is the “tiki-taka”, perfected by Barcelona FC and employed by the Spain national team.

Tiki-taka is a tactical play-style that involves quick passing and constantly moving players. The idea is to move the ball quickly between players in triangles and pinning opposition players in the own half. A large part of this tactic is being patient, to keep passing and wait for an opportunity to score a goal. A team can’t score if they don’t even have the ball!

This particular style of football was made famous in Spain, by Barcelona FC. In fact, it was so successful that it was adopted by the Spanish national team and won them many trophies as a result. Not only this, but there are a myriad of documents that attempt to analyse this tactic, in order to replicate it. There are no direct comparisons made between Spanish football styles and Australia,  but we can establish which team is better simply by statistics alone.

The only competition the two teams play in together, is the World Cup. Spain has won the world cup and Australia hasn’t.  On top of that, the FIFA World ranking rates Spain as the #6 in the world and Australia as #58. It can be easily determined that the Spanish style of football is superior to the Australian style, whatever that may be.

This ethnocentric view however is quickly adopted by many people all over the world, when they compare their own country’s football to Spain’s. Only Spain’s direct competition such as Germany or Argentina may not adopt these ethnocentric views of tiki-taka, and instead analyse their style through a lens of cultural relativity.

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Estrella Manchada Negro – Star Smudged Black

Spanish football is known for its many stars and exciting matches between famous clubs. Barcelona and Real Madrid in particular play a significant part in the world of football, they are arguably two of the most well-known teams in the world! However even among all this stardom, there is one recent issue that smears a black mark over Spanish Football. Tax fraud.

Barcelona FC, one of world’s top football clubs, have been dealing with cases of tax fraud regarding their star players.

The issue first arose in 2013, with Lionel Messi, arguably the worlds best player, being charged with tax fraud of more that 4 million euros. Less than a year later, another Barcelona superstar Neymar, was transferred to the Spanish club from Brazil. This sparked another tax fraud investigation, this time into the club regarding the fees for Neymar. Another year later there has been another Barcelona star facing tax fraud charges! This time being Javier Mascherano.

Messi and Neymar giving each other tips for court hearings.

With the amount of players within the world of football, it is not surprising that there will be crimes or allegations towards players, but 3 major cases in 2 years for a single club is quite unheard of!! Not only this, but these allegations involve one of the worlds leading football clubs, a team watched by millions around the world and their players known all over the globe.

Players like Messi and Neymar are role models for young people growing up, they see their achievements and aspire to be like them. Children are inspired by these players, and yet they let down the world by not doing a simple, responsible thing; paying your taxes. They let this tarnish their reputation. Whatever happened to spanish pride?

News headline showing the complexity of the issue. Not simply about tax fraud…

The issue itself is much more complex than I can possibly explore within one blog post, and the tax fraud issue may be less about the player and more about the club itself. Yet in the end it is difficult to know what happens behind closed doors and how footballers really manage their money and taxes…

Catalán Rojo y Amarillo – Red and Yellow Catalan

When one thinks of ‘Spanish Football’, there are two teams that are known all over the world. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid FC. Outside of Spain, these two teams are essentialised as the whole of spanish football, while other teams within the spanish La Liga are barely known.

El Clasico.

People who don’t follow the Spanish Football League will still know of the clash between these two giant clubs; the El Clasico. To most people outside of Spain, the El Clasico is Spanish football. Even though there are 18 other teams within the league, everyone only knows of the fabled match between Barcelona and Madrid.

This essentialism came from a long history between the two clubs, it is not only a football rivalry but a Spanish political rivalry between the cities of Barcelona and Madrid, between Catalonia and Madrid.

Political Banner at the El Clasico.

However this limits the view of Spanish Football. Clubs like Atletico Madrid and Valencia FC are teams that are just as good, however do not possess the same recognition as Barcelona or Real Madrid. Atletico in particular, always being overshadowed by fellow Madrid club Real Madrid.

Growth of new rivalries between clubs is one way of challenging this essentialism of Spanish Football. Showing that there is more to Football in Spain than just Barcelona and Real Madrid, the El Clasico. The Madrid Derby (Real vs Atletico Madrid), the Seville Derby (Real Betis vs Sevilla FC) and the Galician Derby (Celta Vigo vs Deportivo) are just some of the emerging rivalries being recognised worldwide.

The El Clasico unfortunately paints the picture that Spanish football only exists in Madrid and Barcelona, two cities that people will often travel to in order to see matches live. In fact there are a myriad of other cities where you can watch football that is just as exciting, such as Valencia and Sevilla!

However the El Clasico has too much history behind it and meaning for the Spanish people to be quickly overthrown as the face of Spanish Football…

Lenguaje Colorido – Colourful Language

Transferring to different clubs is a major decision in any footballer’s career. Maybe it’s because of a lack of playing time, maybe you want to win more trophies, maybe for recognition, maybe it’s for more money or maybe even just wanting a change in lifestyle. There are many reasons as to why a player may want to change to a different club, and more often than not it is not only a club transfer, but a country transfer as well. Transfers can also come with many issues… one example is Neymar’s transfer tax troubles!

League logos from all over the world.

Although players can transfer almost anywhere in the world, they will always face the same challenges, adjusting to life in another country. There are endless forms of culture shock and just as many ways of dealing with it (Hottola, 2004), but one of the major ones in football is communication.

The dominant language in Spain is Spanish, and any player transferring from a foreign country to the Spanish ‘La Liga’ will find themselves struggling to communicate effectively. Spanish itself has many different dialects and this is one major challenge foreign players have to overcome.

On the field, communication is one of the most important aspects of the game. If a team is unable to talk to one another they won’t know who’s doing what. Even off the field, relationships between teammates will also be difficult to form. Adjusting to a team where you can’t make friends will just make living in that country so much more difficult.

Spanish football is known for it’s passing and team play, and if a player is unable to speak spanish and communicate with their teammates, they will only become a liability.

Although this can be overcome through translators and learning the language, some footballers choose to use their body language as primary forms of communication until they actually learn the language!

We just need to make sure a lack of communication won’t lead to costly errors…

Los Blancos – The Whites

The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium entrance.

Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. The home stadium of Real Madrid Football Club. Opened in 1947 and has a total capacity of 85,454 seats, it is one of the most famous stadiums in Spain. It is a landmark of epic proportions, and represents how massive the club is to the city of Madrid and Spain as a whole.

The inside of the Bernabeu.

The stadium was originally named  ‘Campo de Chamartín‘, until it was deemed too small and redeveloped into the Bernabeu. The stadium initially kept it’s old name, but was later renamed to the Santiago Bernabeu in honour of the club president who proposed the new stadium.

The Bernabeu has hosted a plethora of historical matches. This includes 4 European Cups, 4 Champions League Finals as well as the 1982 World Cup. The stadium has been broadcast all over the world and remains a historic and iconic stadium in Madrid, the capital of Spain.

Not only this, but there have also been many footballing legends that have graced the pitch of the Bernabeu. Nearly all of the most famous football players will have at some point played for Real Madrid and called the Bernabeu their home ground. This includes: David Beckham, Ricardo Zamora, Roberto Carlos, Brazilian Ronaldo and Christiano Ronaldo to name a few.

Normally, if one were to visit Madrid, a trip to the Bernabeu is on the list. However it would just be a photo of the empty inside and maybe the entrance, like I’ve shown in this post. What people wouldn’t be able to experience is the atmosphere of a game at the Bernabeu. To watch one of the best football teams in the world play in one of the most prestigious stadiums in the world is in itself a milestone in life.

There are no words to describe what it feels like to be there in person, immersed in the atmosphere that the stadium brings…

La Roja – The Red One

One can argue that there are many symbols within Spanish football. Players, teams, stadiums or even club logos. However the most iconic and internationally recognised symbol of Spanish Football is the Spain National Team Jersey.

Spain National Team Jersey 2013/2014, worn in the 2014 World Cup.

This is one of the most iconic symbols in Spanish football. It is the jersey that is used whenever the Spain national team plays, whether it is in a friendly game or during the FIFA World Cup. Anyone that watches the World Cup will see and recognise the iconic red shirt that all the team wears. It is a shirt that is broadcasted worldwide and sold globally.

Spain National Team Badge

The shirt dons the iconic red and yellow of Spain, similar to the national flag. And also similar to the Spanish flag is the badge that is pressed onto the left side of the shirt. It is of the Spanish coat of arms, which entails a combination of six historical coats of arms, bordered by two columns which represent the two Pillars of Hercules, the ancient world’s name for the Straits of Gibraltar.

The shirt is also embossed with a star above the badge itself to represent their World Cup success in the 2010 World Cup. The winning of the World Cup contributes greatly to the international recognition of this jersey, further enhancing its status as a Spanish icon.

The jersey is a symbol of pride, especially since it closely resembles the national flag. It is a privilege to wear this jersey and play for your country. Despite all the politics in Spain, this jersey remains a constant icon no matter which autonomous region you are from.

And as the adidas ad for the 2011/12 jersey promotes, Spanish pride comes from within, despite which region of Spain you are from.