Thursday, January 31, 2013

You can take the girl out of Spain but...

You can't take Spain out of the girl. It's just impossible.

Last night was El Clasico, the largest sports rivalry game in all the world, Real Madrid v. FC Barcelona. And where was I? In a sports bar full of Catalans, with other exchange students of course.

There were equal amounts of supporters for both teams. If you've read my blog before, I've made no secret of being a huge Barça fan. A Korean friend asked why I supported Barça. I told him there was a simple and a complicated reason. He wanted to know both. Simple: all my friends have always been Barça fans. Complicated reason: I'm Basque and my fellow Basques would never forgive me for supporting Real Madrid. As a Basque person, you have to support your local team first and then Barcelona because the Catalans feel the same about Spain as we do. Real Madrid was once the dictator Francisco Franco's team and for Basques it still has the stigma of being associated with the man who tried to wipe out our culture and language. Basques are incredibly proud of their heritage so anything associated with Franco is considered taboo.

My Korean friend was quite fascinated with the politics behind it. He understands perfectly. He says in Korea, you have to hate the Japanese for very similar reasons. He also told me there is one Korean, Park, who plays in La Liga for Celta de Vigo. It's very cool for me just how international football (soccer for you Americans) is.

It's sad to me as a global citizen that the US doesn't have an international soccer presence, at least on the men's side. Our women's soccer is quite good, but our men's soccer is nonexistent. It's a pity. I feel America is missing out on the most international sport there is.

Oh, and the match ended in a tie. Just as well, as there was a lot of good natured teasing going on before and during the game. Much more peaceful without a victor, even if I wish my team had won.

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