El Clásico: Real Madrid vs Barcelona FC: History, Records, Goals, Events and More
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Once upon a time, the Real Madrid – Barcelona FC rivalry used to be the world’s most famous famous football rivalry. That stage has long passed.
It has now become much bigger than a mere football rivalry. It is now a political rivalry, a clash between two opposing ideas. Barcelona FC has now become a symbol of Catalan identity and pride. “Catalonia is not Spain”, the fans scream when the two El Clasico rivals meet.
Real Madrid stood for the establishment, for the centralizing idea. Barcelona FC stood for freedom. Though the Catalonia region gained considerable autonomy since 1979, the support for a separate nation is wide. Invariably, these nationalist feelings are transferred to the football field.
History: Past & Present Events
Di Stefano Transfer
The controversial signing of Alfredo Di Stefano in 1953 created much bad blood between the two great football rivals. Both clubs tried to sign the Argentinian and later both claimed to have signed him. The situation refused to resolve, and finally FIFA had to intervene.
It was decided that both clubs would share the player in alternate seasons.
More controversy was in store, as Di Stefano later permanently moved to Real. Real Madrid officials claimed that it was Barcelona’s decision to relinquish him, but question marks remained. And yet another ugly chapter was added to the annals of football’s greatest rivalry.
The Boixos Nois was a Barcelona FC support group founded in 1982. Made up of left leaning Catalan nationalists, the group had a close relationship with the club. However, entry of fascist elements into the group and subsequent increase in violent activities led to the club president Joan Laporta banning entry of the group members for the matches.
Some members of the group have even been convicted for death threats and murder.
But even after the ban, the group has been receiving support from various officials of the Barcelona FC.
Luis Figo Transfer and the Game of Shame
The year 2000 saw the controversial transfer of Barcelona vice-captain Luis Figo to Real Madrid. When Figo came to Camp Nou for the El Clasico in November 2002, the Boixos Nois called him a treacher, and booed him through the match.
Things got really ugly when the Boixos threw a cut Pig’s head next to Figo when he was taking a corner. The match was suspended for 13 minutes and the players removed from the field for fear of their safety.
Football fans in Spain have since referred to the match as the ‘Game of Shame’
(to be continued. This article on the El Clasico: Barcelona FC vs Real Madrid rivalry is yet incomplete, and will be updated soon).