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Differences In the Regions of Spain Through Football: Castile

Editor's Note: This is Part III of a five part series about the differences in three of the major Spanish regions, Catalonia, Castile and the Basque Country, and how football united the historically different cultures.


Spain's capital city of Madrid started out as an insignificant Castilian town in the center of the country. King Felipe II of Castile chose this small town as the capital in 1561, standing with a population of 20,000. Wanting to unite Spain with the Catholic Religion, the Spanish Inquisition stationed itself in the center of the country, further giving some nationalists ideas that Madrid was an enemy.

During the Spanish Civil War, when the football club of Madrid was established and Franco was in power, many thought that the white colors of the club's kit showed support for the military, as they contained no red, the color of a nationalist; however, not all fans during that time liked Franco. While many fans that dislike Real Madrid link Franco with the club, these accusations are usually unjust, as the club did not pick the colors to represent Franco.

The club Madrid FC was founded in 1902 with the classic white of the club copied from an English club named Corinthians. A largely unknown fact about the club is that the first two administrators, Juan and Carlos Padros, were born in Catalonia before moving to Madrid. While many Castilians most likely resent this fact, it is overlooked when talking about the success of the club.

The most advertised era of success was most definitely the Galactico Era; a team of stars in which the best player of the year was purchased from another club and brought into the capital during the summer. This plan was initially called ‘Zidanes and Pavones' because the best player of the time, Zidane, and the best youth player, Pavon, were being brought in for the first team, and the aim was to repeat this process every year. This project radically failed as the last first-team member to have come from the youth academy was Iker Casillas in 1997. The current Real Madrid team is labeled as the second Galactico Era as many of the stars were purchased during the early 21st Century, but they have yet to repeat the success of the first era of Galacticos.

While FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao have produced and used numerous players from their two youth academies, Real Madrid has skipped over these players when selecting the team. Although there have been many fan favorites or big name players at the club, the most loved and respected players are Casillas and Raul, two youth players who were raised by the club. Even though Raul was a legend when he played for Spain, and Casillas has earned the nickname of San Iker, meaning Saint Iker, from the fans, supporters of opposing teams still disliked the two players when they played for Madrid.

An example of this came in 2003, when Real Madrid played an away game to Osasuna, the club in Pamplona. Fans whistled and jeered, a normality in football, but they also showed support for ETA, the Basque nationalist group. A demonstration was not spurred on by just a simple rivalry; the desire to separate from the central government in the Basque Country has intensified to violence and also shaped a culture that is historically different.

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