As in so many aspects of their life, the Spanish are PASSIONATE about their football. Whilst attendances are in general much lower than say in leagues of comparable levels in the UK, that does not stop the average Spaniard being very knowledgeable and passionate about their local club. Yes, their local club, as Spaniards are much less fickle than British fans and it is the norm to follow your local team and/or the team of your parents. One reason for the lower attendances might be that every single La Liga (Primera División) game can be found on some TV station (albeit Pay Per View) and, with staggered kick-offs, it is possible to see four games every weekend on TV. Spain also has two excellent daily sports newspapers which are predominantly football – Marca and AS
La Liga is undoubtedly one of the strongest leagues in the world and, in Real Madrid and Barcelona, Spain has two of the very finest club sides but the performances of the national side in the World Cup Finals (even when they qualify!) has been pretty lamentable. They have often been amongst the favourites but since the Second World War they have never even reached the semi-finals. In 1982 they staged the World Cup which was marked by a series of great matches and is widely regarded as the second-best ever after the legendary 1970 tournament. However, Spain yet again failed to impress and were beaten by Northern Ireland and drew against Honduras in the group stages. Only a penalty saw them through to the next round against Yugoslavia. Wikipedia tells all. Spain regained some of its national pride in the summer of 2008 when it was clearly the best team and won the Euro 2008 in Switzerland and Austria beating Germany in the final.
I consider myself a football fanatic and a close follower of all things to do with “The Beautiful Game” but my knowledge pales into insignificance against Phil Ball who has written one of the greatest ever books about football Morbo. This book details the history of football in Spain in an utterly compelling and thought-provoking way. It is a definite “must-read” for anybody in the slightest interested in Spanish football in particular and Spain in general.
Another excellent web-site is Simon Harris’ Spain-Football.org which is also a “must-visit” for anybody who wants to know anything about soccer in Spain. Simon tells me that, ” www.spain-football.org is a website with a very simple objective ‘Enjoy The Beautiful Game In Sunny Spain!’ Inspired by rainy Saturday afternoons in the north of England when all you could say about the game was ‘It pissed down and we lost 3-2!’, I originally intended to write a book about the joys of watching of watching great football in a great place – I support Barça, I’ve lived in the Catalan capital for more than 20 years and I sincerely believe that what you read in the press about both the city and the team falls sadly short of the wondrous reality”.
The germ of an idea had been knocking around in my head for at least a decade, when Rangers were drawn against Barca in the Champions League. Their supporters let themselves down very badly and apart from feeling very annoyed by their behaviour, it struck me that all they needed was a healthy dose of education. If someone had only pointed out to them that had they only gone down to the beach to take their shirts off, get stupidly drunk and urinate in public, nobody would have batted an eyelid. Spain is inundated with places where you can be as uninhibited as you like but obviously, the Spanish aren’t to pleased if you do it whilst they’re trying to do their nine to five daily business.
The website will still develop into a printed something or other but at the moment it aims to make the visiting football fans life easier – buy the ticket, book the flight, hire the car, find the hotel, buy the shirt, read a book about it . . . and learn summink! ” Simon also actively encourages readers to add comments, information and photos so the site is very much a work-in-progress. Enjoy!
Below you will find all the official web-sites of the teams who competed in La Liga (La Liga BBVA) 2012/2013 and those for the teams in the second tier (Liga Adelante) will be found on the site of La Liga de Fútbol Profesional Another great football site although again all in Spanish is Futbolme whilst in English there is the less comprehensive but still impressive Soccer-Spain. Good news is that Marca, the best Spanish sports daily now has an English website.
- Recreativo de Huelva – oldest club in Spain
- Athletic Club de Bilbao
- Real Madrid
- Atlético Madrid
- Deportivo La Coruña
- Real Murcia
- Racing Santander
- Rayo Vallecano
- Real Sociedad
- Real Sporting
I must make mention of a relatively knew phenomenon in Spanish football – the rise and rise of the expat supporters clubs (peñas). The best examples are at La Liga’s Málaga and at FC Torrevieja but all along the costas club presidents are trying to woo the expat fan. FC Torrevieja despite playing in the fourth level of Spanish football regularly attracted crowds five to ten times more than their opponents. Why? Well, the Torry Army was more than 75% of the home crowd and similar stories can be told in Jávea, Tenerife, UD Lanzarote and at countless tercera and preferente grounds in expatshire. Some of their sites include:
Finally, several British clubs have supporters’ clubs in Spain. Manchester City and Celtic have close ties with Spain but perhaps the most famous is Liverpool who have branches in Tenerife, Madrid , Barcelona and the Costa Blanca. In fact in 2007 a Liverpool Legends side with many of the greats from the 70s and 80s came to play a FC Torrevieja select in November 2008. Walsh, Wark, Boulder, Case and many Liverpool favourites showed the big crowd that whilst they had perhaps lost a yard of speed, their football-brains were still very much alive!