Barcelona’s lost its mind, and I’m not talking about the football club
Big rivalry matches, regardless of sport, are high intensity events. Especially in the world of soccer, individual federations have heightened security alerts whenever these big matches happen, just because of the ultra-tense nature of the matches. Case in point: the second leg of last year’s final of the Copa Libertadores between Boca Juniors and River Plate had to be moved from the Monumental in Buenos Aires to the Estadio Santiago Bernábeu in Madrid because of violence. However, this might not be the only time a major rivalry match has to be relocated there because of violence.
The Spanish soccer federation, known as the RFEF, has requested that next week’s latest edition of El Clásico, pitting eternal rivals Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, be moved from the Camp Nou in Barcelona to the Bernábeu because of intense civil unrest in the Catalonian city following the jailing of nine members of the Catalonian Independence Party.
This honestly brings up great disappointment within me. It’s a given that I despise FC Barcelona. I’m a Real Madrid fan through and through. However, I love seeing Los Merengues play in the Camp Nou. The atmosphere of the match is unparalleled, just as it is in the Bernábeu. However, I understand that the problems in Barcelona make staging a high-intensity match such as El Clásico nearly impossible and definitely not worth the trouble.
However, the real story here is the issues in Catalonia. And honestly, they’re becoming a little tiresome. To understand this requires viewing this through a historical lens, because Catalonians have been protesting against the Spanish crown off and on for about 75 years. Basically, they’ve been upset ever since Francisco Franco took power. Now, this isn’t the place for a lecture about fascism in Spain or the atrocities perpetuated by Franco and his government or how they were overcome, but the fact is that Catalonia did also suffer under Franco, just like everyone else.
What concerns me though is that this unrest is affecting perhaps the world’s most-watched soccer rivalry. This is something that needs to stop and the RFEF needs to quickly come to a decision about what to do, whether it be playing the match at the Bernábeu or at a neutral ground, as it’s obvious that the rivalry can’t be contested in the middle of so much sociopolitical animosity.