Arriving fashionably late in the true Spanish style, I entered Estádio Vicente Calderón on October 16 decked out in red and gold rather than the traditional Hurricane orange and green and was immediately greeted by the canciones of the Spanish home crowd.
We Miami Hurricanes know how to party at Sun Life and make our presence known on the road, but never have I experienced such an absolute unity of the utmost pasión.
MADRID, ESPAŇA: 16 October 2012 — The home crowd celebrates the first goal of the match as Spain took the early lead 1-0 over France in the 2014 World Cup qualifier match. [Photo_courtesy of Jordan Morrison]
Up in the cheap seats, the young Spaniards around me wasted no time in spotting a first-timer and leading me through the chants of support for their national team in the 2014 World Cup qualifier match against France.
Spain took the early lead with a goal from defender Sergio Ramos in the twenty-fifth minute. After a header attempt deflected off the goal post, Ramos redirected a cross from forward Pedro to put Spain ahead by a goal and send the crowd into a roaring celebration.
The score remained 1-0 in favor of Spain until the final minute of stoppage time when France’s Olivier Giroud bested Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the ninety-forth minute of play. With the 1-1 draw, Spain and France share the top spot in Group 1 of the 2014 Brazil World Cup qualification tournament.
Throughout the match, the entire stadium was humming with excitement, from the sidelines to the nosebleed sections. As a Miami Hurricane and a lifelong Boston sports fan, I thought I had seen my share of diehard fans and dedicated home crowds. But that night in Vicente Calderón, my whole point of view was reconstructed.
The pasión we feel for our alma mater, the pasión of a city thirsting for a World Series after 86 years cannot be matched by the pasión of an entire nation. Both the Spanish and the few diehard French supporters dressed head to toe in their respective patriotic colors, filled to utmost capacity with fervent desire and support of their beloved teams.
We hear about the blood, sweat and tears of the athletes that fight through physical pain and grueling training to compete for their team, but in my opinion, this crowd deserved just as much attention and credit for the excitement of the international match.
In a country plagued by economic crisis and threats of division, the unity of the stadium and the entire city of Madrid was such a powerful and hopeful image. Más que Barça versus Real Madrid, más que one region versus another, this match was about Spain. Spain as a whole, Spain as a nation, Spain as one of the strongest and most successful national teams of the decade. Un símbolo de esperanza y unidad.
MADRID, ESPAÑA: 16 October 2012 — Tuesday’s 1-1 draw between Spain and France puts both teams in a tie for first place in Group I of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying tournament to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. [Photo_courtesy of Jordan Morrison]
words_kristen spillane. photo_jordan morrison.