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.
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…
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…