For our last week of studying Spanish soccer and culture, T.Dan and I read and discussed two different chapters from a book discussing soccer identities in both Catalonia and País Vasco. Goles y banderas: futbol e identidades nacionales en España by Alejandro quiroga fernandez de soto, is the name of the book, written entirely in Spanish. These two chapters each gave a nice long timeline of the respective clubs’ history in the country, parts of which we already knew about. The difference between these chapters and other readings and videos we used earlier in the quarter, was the stressed sense of identity. What do these historical events mean to the identities of these two regions? Why is it important that these soccer clubs impact the identities of millions of people in a region? How are these identities being formed through soccer, what methods are clubs using to express these identities? These are all questions Dan and I spoke about in our final week discussing Spanish soccer. We decided that with all the information we learned about history, politics, and soccer, it would be appropriate to end discussing what it all means.
We found that the answers to these questions, lay in a few places. In Catalonia, being able to support a club that supports you is hugely important to Catalonians. F.C Barcelona’s strong vocal support of the Catalan people and their willingness to express this support to the greater world of soccer, has influenced many Catalan citizens in their allegiance with the club. Over the years of the club’s history they have developed a football style, of playing pretty and attempting to keep as much possession of the ball as they can. This is something that the fans were able to identify with, it was uniquely Barcelona, until the rest of the world saw all the success it had and copied their style.
For País Vasco and Athletic Bilbao there are similar connections and feelings of identity through football. The team represents the citizens of the region. This is exemplified by the fact that all players and staff on Bilbao have to be from País Vasco, it is truly the people’s team. The emotional connection and theater of soccer is what draws people in across the world, and when there are other things at stake such as political statements or regional pride, it only magnifies the emotions of the game.
One thing we noticed as a theme in the readings was the impact that the media, newspapers, radios, television, etc. had on the identities of these teams and regions as well. Most people saw their respective teams through the eyes of the media, and the impact of nationalistic papers played a part in how people saw themselves as part of their respective group. Especially before televion became so widespread, the impact of the media could not be stressed more on how people identified with their teams.
We plan on using these themes and ideas as we carry over into our second area of study, soccer in South America. The difference in our study of Spain and our study across South America, will be not in the soccer and it’s connection to our study but rather in the subjects we are making the connection to. We have made a plan to focus more on the business side of soccer in South America, and the great amount of corruption we see in the sport in many countries. We still plan on investigating national team rivalries as well as learning about Copa Libertadores, a competition in which club teams from across the continent participate in.