Blancos versus Culés, Merengues versus Barça, Real Madrid versus Barcelona. Whichever way you put it, it means one thing: rivalry. The deep and bitter rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona football club goes way back, long before Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi ever existed.
The rivalry began Nov. 29, 1899, when Fútbol Club (FC) Barcelona was founded in Catalonia, Spain and quickly became an important aspect of Catalonian culture. Three years later, Madrid FC was created in the Castilian region of Spain and won its first title after only its third year of existence. Then in 1920, the Spanish King Alfonso XIII bestowed the title Real (Spanish for Royal) to the team. It then became the Real Madrid Club de Fútbol we know today.
The rivalry between the teams is rooted in more than just the desire to win. It is deeply tangled in political and national issues. Naturally, national league teams are rivals because each one thinks they better represent their country and want to be the top dog of the nation. Madrid and Barcelona are the largest cities in Spain so budding heads came with the territory.
The rivalry, however, deepened during the Spanish Civil War when Dictator Francisco Franco outlawed all Spanish dialects with the exception of Castilian while also suppressing all other regional cultures. Catalonians viewed Real as the embodiment of fascism and oppression. From this, support for Barcelona soared, making it a way for the Spanish to express their culture. FC Barcelona became “Més que un club,” (more than a club) to those oppressed by Franco’s regime.
On the University of Miami campus, students walk around with Barcelona or Real jerseys, wearing them for reasons that aren’t much different than the reasons why the teams have gained fans during the last 100 years.
“I enjoy the legacy and team work of Real Madrid,” sophomore Farrah Mohammed said. “I enjoy their tactics, how they set up each goal and how aware of the ball and geometry their midfielders are.”
Barcelona fan and senior Rahid Chadid discussed his love for the team and his ill feelings towards Real Madrid.
“I’ve had to endure watching El Classico with my father who is a Real fan for most of my life. Things get intense during crucial points of the match,” Chadid said.
A Colombia native, Chadid first became a Barça fan around the age of eight and was captivated by the story behind the team.
“In the last decade Barcelona has advanced the game of soccer with their innovative techniques,” he said. “They have added to the sport of soccer more than Real ever has.”
Throughout their 100+ year history, Real and Barcelona have played against each other 261 times. The matches are called “El Classico” and Real holds the record for most competitive Classico wins (92). The first Classico of the fall 2014 season, held on October 25th, resulted in a 3-1 win for Real Madrid with goals by Ronald, Karim Benzema and Pepe. The next Classico is set for March 22nd, 2015.
words_dora williams. illustration_michelle brener.