However, the high level of symbolism acquired by the clubs provided the matches with a seriousness and sense of transcendence that were previously unimaginable Llopis-Goig Currently, neither time nor the enormous social and economic trans- formations that have affected the world of football seem to have eli- minated the regional symbolism or political connotations associated with clubs such as FC Barcelona, Athletic de Bilbao, and Real Madrid.
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This seems obvious if we focus on the declarations of some of the mana- gers and the images and messages circulating about them in the media, social networks, and numerous sport and informative publications. However, can the same thing be said about the fans and people who identify with each of these football clubs?
Are they characterized by political and identitary orientations that agree with those traditionally attributed to the clubs? In other words, is there political-identity iso- morphism between the football clubs and their fans? It analyses the degree to which the political orientations of the fans are related to those that have traditionally been projected by or attributed to their clubs.
To do so, it is necessary to trace the links these clubs have historically shown with the political sphere and analyse, based on the data from a representative statistical survey of the adult Spanish population, the main opinions and political attitudes of their fans.
Therefore, the study has both a historical and a quantitative- sociological purpose, although the latter is its main objective. This ob- jective has not been addressed by any other previous study. FC Barcelona and Athletic de Bilbao are second and fourth, respecti- vely, in this regard, representing Thus, these three clubs make up When talking about political culture, three elements are used that largely synthesize its main dimensions in Spanish society Botella : national identity degree to which the population feels Spanish or from the region to which they belong , preferred type of state, in terms of the degree of territorial decentralization considered appropriate for Spain, and ideological orientation self-positioning on the left-right axis.
This survey was carried out from the second to the twelfth of June in towns from 46 provinces in Spain. During the survey, people of both sexes over the age of 18 were interviewed in their homes. The article is made up of four sections. From its origins, the image of Athletic de Bilbao was based on the idea of a club that represented the city and its surrounding area. Not in vain, from its foundation in , the club had managers and players linked to the Basque Nationalist Party PNV. Later, when the Basque country had been invaded by the na- cionales rebel military , the team moved to Mexico where it played in the National League before dissolving Shaw Furthermore, in the s and s, many Basques frequently expressed both Spanish and Basque identities with no apparent problems, as demonstrated by the acceptance of the Spanish national team in various Basque cities during that time Quiroga With these identity characteristics, it is not surprising that matches between these two teams have been real local battles since the beginning of the 20th century.
Nonetheless, the greatest clashes were produced by the centralist bias of some po- litical decisions and policies. The symbolism of FC Barcelona increa- sed during the dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera, who came to power in , marking the beginning of a military dictatorship that would foreshadow the later Francoist period. Primo de Rivera eliminated Catalan from the public sphere and prohibited the seny era.
The persecution of Catalan symbols by the Primo de Rivera regime clashed with the social reality of an entity that found itself in a golden age Pujadas and Santacana , After the fall of Primo de Rivera, FC Barcelona supported the campaign in favour of the Catalan autonomy statute and maintained its link to the Catalan movement during the Second Republic Quiroga At the beginning of the Civil War, the president of FC Barcelona and deputy in the Spanish Courts for Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya the Republican Left of Catalonia , Josep Sunyol, was shot by a group of Francoists after the vehicle he was traveling in entered an enemy zone by mistake.
This assassination caused great upheaval in Catalonia.
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Sport was subordinated to the state and impregnated with fascist terminology. Consequently, Franco neutralized any institutions that could have a separatist motivation. During the s and s, football clubs — including Athletic de Bilbao and FC Barcelona — were directed by Falangists or local business owners who had declared their loyalty to the Caudillo at the end of the Civil War. The managers and members who led the football clubs in the s and s were less tolerant of the centralist arrogance and anti-democratic authoritarianism of the regime, and they were closer to the political and cultural opposition movements that began to develop in regions like Catalonia and the Basque Country.
FC Barcelona, mostly made up of local footballers until the s, started to contract foreign players as a way to assert its rivalry with Real Madrid. The s and s saw the transformation of FC Barcelona into the true catalyst of the nationalistic aspirations of the Catalans. The Franco regime did not mind that football could serve as a scenario for expressing regional tensions.
With the advent of democracy, FC Barcelona increased its catala- nising function. Two days later, the celebrations of the European Recopa, won by the club in Basel, turned into a political demonstration demanding an autonomy statute for Catalonia. His successor, Joan Gaspar president from did not hide his political incli- nations toward the main right-wing Spanish party, the Partido Popular PP Quiroga However, things took on a different tone with the arrival of Joan Laporta to the FC Barcelona presidency in June This young lawyer — who had the support of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya ERC and certain sectors of the Catalan right — developed a discourse with strong independence connotations, in which the Catalan nation appeared as a victim of a prolonged injustice perpetrated by a Spanish state that continued to asphyxiate Catalonia and impede its progress.
In addition, the evolution of the political situation, with a majority of deputies in the Catalan Parliament currently favouring the creation of an indepen- dent Catalan state, has been a determining factor in the direction taken by the club. The support for nationalism also grew in the Basque country du- ring late Francoism.
In addition to supporting the Basque autonomy and the spread of Euskera, Athletic de Bilbao developed a home-grown sport policy — based on hiring only Basque and Navarran players — which made it an important emblem of Basque nationalism. In any case, Athletic de Bilbao continued to be a symbol for all Bilbaoans, regardless of their degree of support for Basque nationalism.
All of this establishes a clearly different political situation from what is present today in Catalonia. In relation to national identity, there is a fourth indicator related to the degree of pride experienced every time the Spanish national team performs well in a sport championship pride in the national team.
Next, a comparative analysis is presented of these indicators for the fans of FC Barcelona, Athletic de Bilbao, and Real Madrid, that is, the population over 18 years old that self-identify with these football clubs on the survey. It is important to keep in mind that, according to the survey on which the study is based, The data represented in table 1 show that a majority of the fans of the three clubs feel equally as Spanish as belonging to the region where they live.
In the case of FC Barcelona, The exclusive feeling of being Spanish is clearly higher among the fans living in Spain than among those living in Catalonia In any case, those who feel exclusively or more from the region make up Among the fans of Athletic de Bilbao all over Spain, the majority feel just as Spanish as they do from the region In the Basque Country, the number of fans who feel more attached to their region is higher than those who feel more Spanish, and along with those who only feel tied to the region, represent In any case, the results also show that being a fan of Athletic de Bilbao is not incompatible with feelings of being Spanish: The national identity of Real Madrid fans is quite different from those of these two clubs.
In fact, Likewise, There is, then, a predominance of a dual identity and, above all, a percentage of Spanishness that was not as high in FC Barcelona and Athletic de Bilbao fans. As the data from table 2 show, the majority of the fans of the three clubs have feelings of pride very and strongly proud , although they are much higher in Real Madrid fans, and they obtain the lowest scores among the fans of Athletic de Bilbao.
However, in both cases, a majority state that they are proud of the successes of the Spanish national team: As table 2 shows, the proud fans make up By contrast, the percentage who state they are not very or not at all proud is reduced to 4. Pre fe re n ce s Re late d to th e Te rrito rial Organ izatio n o f th e State After examining the differences related to identitary feelings, this section is dedicated to the analysis of the preferences related to the terri- torial organization of the state.
The data that appear in table 3 show the existence of important differences among the fans of the three football clubs. The Real Madrid fans in the region of Madrid were mainly in favour of a state with one central government with no autonomy for the regions Next, The fans of Real Madrid in Spain overall are slightly more in favour of the current system The situation is quite different among the fans of Athletic de Bilbao. Its fans — both in Spain and in the Basque Country — are equally in favour of maintaining the state as it is currently set up However, the other preferences move toward wanting greater autonomy for the regions Finally, among the fans of FC Barcelona, a clear demand for greater regional autonomy is detected.
This is followed by a state where the regions have greater autonomy than they have now, with Thus, In the case of Athletic de Bilbao, these two positions are held by Finally, the Madrid fans feel inclined toward a state with a degree of territorial decentralization like the current one or much less, but they also support positions that demand greater autonomy for the regions — 7.
Id e o lo gical Orie n tatio n Scale o f Se lf-p lace m e n t o n th e Le ft-righ t The last indicator selected to examine the political culture of the fans of the three Spanish football clubs has to do with the political ideology. The variables commonly used to measure this construct con- sist of asking interviewees to place themselves on a ten-point scale, where one corresponds to the position on the far left and ten to the one on the far right.
These two categories register Finally, Athletic de Bilbao fans lead the other two groups in the centre-left and centre positions. In the former, they reach Thus, for example, 9. Therefore, it seems clear that one thing is the political orientation of the club, and another is that of the fans.
The results of the study show that — except in some cases men- tioned below — there is a relationship between the political orientations historically associated with the three football clubs studied and their fans, both in Spain overall and in their respective regions. With regard to FC Barcelona, although the majority of its fans in Catalonia consi- der themselves both Spanish and from the region In spite of this, it should be kept in mind that These fans are, however, clearly in favour of a territorial organization of the state that gives more or complete autonomy to their regions Nevertheless, The Athletic de Bilbao fans in the Basque Country are, in terms of collective identity, much less Spanish than the Catalans: here, The fans who identify with the club also exhibit a lower level of pride in the sport successes of the national team Moreover, Thus, also in this case, the political culture that the survey analysed attributes to the fans of this club seems to support the hypothesis of political-identitary isomorphism between the club and its fans.
Finally, the results do not show a different direction in the case of Real Madrid fans. These fans, in addition, feel greater satisfaction about the performance of the Spanish national team: In another vein, Finally, although the Real Madrid fans surpass those of the other teams in the position of right and centre-right, the study showed that those who place themselves on the left and centre-left — contrary to what would be expected taking into account its traditional image as a central team or of the establishm ent — double those who place themselves on the right and centre-right.
The results obtained in this study show a high level of convergence between the political and ideological aspects traditionally associated with the clubs and the political culture of their fans. Although the results obtained have shown the relevance of the political-identitary isomorphism hypothesis between clubs and fans for the three clubs, relevant percentages of fans also occupy ambiva- lent or opposite positions to what would be expected by the political- identitary isomorphism hypothesis.
In fact, among the fans of these three clubs in Spain as a whole, a majority feel they belong equally to Spain and to the regions where they live dual identity , feel very or fairly proud of the successes of the Spanish national team, and are in favour of a state with a degree of decentralization like the current one. Madrid: Taurus, Xavier Pujadas, editor.
Madrid: Alianza, Ball, Philip. Botella, Joan. Botines, Alex. Barcelona: Amaika, Burns, Jimmy. Barcelona: Anagrama, De Riotinto a la Roja. Barcelona: Contra, Castillo, Juan Carlos. Santiago Segurola. Madrid: Debate, Crolley, Liz and David Hand. Football, Europe and the Press.
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