true faith : THE REAL SPAIN

by • January 22, 2014 • Blog españolComments (9)2374

Sometimes this fanzine, rightly or wrongly, gets criticism for mixing politics with football. Riot1The more I live here and get to know what makes Spanish football tick, the more I understand that football and politics are interwoven, at least in Spain anyway.

I don’t know how much you have seen in the UK of the disturbances in the northern Spanish city of Burgos. I’ve never been to Burgos but people tell me it’s a sleepy, conservative and traditionally ultra-Catholic city, not the type of place you would associate

with street rioting. However, the city witnessed five nights of rioting, starting the weekend riot4before last. The catalyst for the riots was a project remodelling of a main street in the city, which runs through a working class area called Gamonal. Pretty harmless you may think, but people have been asking why the town hall was spending €8m on this when at the same time they are scaling back rubbish collection and closing schools due to cash problems. Some sources say that Burgos owes the banks €135m and can’t keep up on the
repayments. Things become clearer when you find out that contracts appear to have been awarded to a builder with a dubious owner who has served a prison sentence for corruption in the past. So this project seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. What’s all this got to do with football I hear you ask? Well, according to some Spanish newspapers, amongst the main groups behind the riots is a band of left wing antifa football ultras called
Riot2Resaca Castellana. Resaca Castellana follow Segunda B (Group 1) outfit Burgos CF and some of the group’s members were amongst the people who were arrested during the initial nights of the protesting. Rioting, in support of Gamonal, also spread to other major Spanish cities like Madrid and Barcelona, which has in turn led to the mayor of Burgos saying that the project has now been suspended.

On one of the nights that the riots were taking place I spent the evening amongst some of Riot3the best, if not the best, ultras in Spain. I went to see Elche play Seville and went in the away end with the Biris Norte, the ultras that follow Seville FC. Some of my mates, at Ciudad de Murcia, have contacts with the Seville lads and I went to the game in the hope of seeing some of the best supporters in the country. However, this wasn’t to be as when the Biris lads arrived at the stadium, after a six hour coach journey, they had all of
their tifo, including all flags and even scarves, confiscated before they were allowed to enter the stadium. Now I’m not saying that the Biris are angels, in the last year alone they
have been in the news for clashes with rival fans in Granada and in Seville with right wing fans of Polish club Slask Wroclaw. Some alleged members also hit the headlines for attacking their own player in their stadium car park after a recent derby with Real Betis. Nevertheless, I found the Police treatment harsh and it spoilt the atmosphere at the game, with some of the Seville lads vowing never to come to Elche again. This all comes on the back of Spain’s proposed Citizens Security Law which could mean fines of between €1000
and €30,000 will be levied for anybody who wears a mask or hood in a public place that makes their identification difficult also anyone who insults a Policeman ,when they are doing their work, could be hit with a similar fine. Even higher fines could be handed out to anyone photographing of videoing any member of the Police or security forces and for public order offences in any religious public or sporting or entertainment event. Some commentators are saying that this law would be a throwback to the Franco regime. I think

I agree. The Biris Norte decided that a silent protest was the order of the day, I’m not too sure if that bothered the Police too much though? As an aside the only people I saw with covered faces that night were policemen.

Later on that week you would have noticed that Ronaldo won the Balon de Oro. Well done to him, he’s welcome to it. His team Real Madrid played Osasuna, the team from Navarra region with a Basque name, in the Copa del Rey, the day after the award. Osasuna’s excitable element, Indar Gorri, had a nice full pyro welcoming committee for Ronaldo and co. as they arrived in Pamplona.   See here:

Staying in the north and Racing Santander supporters have been hitting the headlines too, some of them tried to attack their president, Angel Lavin, during a cup game with Almeria. The Segunda B side drew the game 1-1, but with around sixty minutes on the clock some supporters decided to enter the directors’ box and throw drinks at the club’s owner.  The trouble revolves around the non-payment of the players’ wages and general bad running of the club.  See here:

It’s never dull and I expect more of this sort of thing in the coming months and years, both in football and politically here.

BUT let’s end on an amusing theme and something I was going to put in the last blog but Refglassesdidn’t have room for. During the Christmas break CAP Ciudad de Murcia played a couple of friendly matches, I attended one in Lorca. It was a horrible rainy night and the football on display was awful, however I seen one of the funniest things that I have ever seen in thirty odd years of watching football. The referee was actually wearing glasses, in the rain as well! The fans were shouting “you need windscreen wipers!!” and all kinds of other things, as you can imagine. To add to that he was terrible and made all kinds of useless decisions that ended up with the Ciudad players walking off the pitch before the game ended…pure slapstick! …and you think Mike Jones is bad?

Adios for now!







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9 Responses to true faith : THE REAL SPAIN

  1. Andy says:

    Good article, both interesting and informative. Keep up the good work!

  2. brian says:

    Good article! I also live in Bilbao in Spain (or Basque Country as locals would prefer it to be known), support Athletic de Bilbao, so I just wanted to add a nuance to the information about the riots last week in Burgos.
    Even though the contract for the remodelling works may have been won in a shoddy corrupt manner, it isn’t actually local council that has any say in allocation of funds i.e. 8 million for infrastructure rather than for health or education. This is dictated from central government who allocate funds for different sectors and as far as I can fathom the 8 million is from an incentive offered to almost all regional cities for improvement of road infrastructure. That the town mayor chose their neighbourhood is probably a strategic development decision but the bottom line is that they could take the 8 million from central government, foment a little employment in the area due to the works and also make the promotor a little richer (the downside)…
    But, it is the misinformed neighbourhood that thought the local mayor had any power of decision regards allocation of funding.
    There was also the case that the neighbourhood had free parking on the street and if it was remodelled they would be obliged to park further from their homes or to purchase a new parking space…
    To end, I must say I admire the Spanish people’s intent to show that they are angry with the way funding is used. The local and central governments in spain just play “opposition” politics and never politics to benefit their citizens. The fact that corruption is ingrained in society at all levels means we won’t see a quantum shift at any time in the near future (see “Picaresca Española”).

  3. Tony Higgins says:

    Hi Brian I’ve had some feedback from
    People from Burgos that the ultras weren’t that involved in the disturbances. However I read that they were in several Spanish newspapers. Thanks for your remarks about the funding etc all noted. Personally I think the most important thing is is that the story is out there and people if interested can do their own research/ reading and then come to their own conclusions. I don’t know Burgos at all , as I said in the piece I’ve never been there just went on stuff I read in the news or seen on TV. Apparently this hasn’t made the main stream news in the uk … Can’t say surprised . Anyway thanks again and please keep reading and commenting agur!

  4. John Milton says:

    I find it hard to agree with people who say football and politics aren’t intertwined – they are intrinsically intertwined. Hillsborough should be proof enough!

    Great read as always, fella – you’ll be getting a cheeky RT or two!

  5. Mikey says:

    Tony , great read on the happenings in Spain, a country I lived in for a few years and hope to go back to , I had read about the Burgos riot,it was reported on the olive press website the mayor claimed the locals had asked for the project
    Elche still seems the same as when I last visited for a game many years ago, and do like the stance of athletic Bilbao promoting local players , there’s football and politics for yer!
    Look forward to the next read!

  6. Nors3 says:

    First, thanks for the nice article.

    I live in Burgos, more specifically in Gamonal, the place where the disturbs occurred. As well, I’m a fan of Burgos CF so i’ll comment a few aspects of the case (sorry for my bad english).

    Gamonal is the worker neighborhood of the city and in Burgos the town hall have very serious problems with debt but they aren’t closing schools due to cash problems. There are more than one thing that has caused all this, from the design of the work until the current Spanish situation, including an illegal concession (in spanish ).
    And to say that before this happened, there were mass demonstrations in the city.

    Resaca haven’t much to do with this case, but politic and football have not been much separated in this topic. In fact, last Sunday in the match of the Burgos CF, some fans in the sector more animated screamed slogans against the boulevard, the mayor and the businessman involved. There was also a banner against the boulevard.

    Nothing else, a pleasure to read articles like that.

    • Tony Higgins says:

      Thank you for your comments and your english is fine.

      I read in 3 newspapers that Resaca were involved but I know not believe all that is written.

      Thanks for correcting a couple of points that were incorrect. At least a few more people in the UK know about what happened now. Some people have told me that this hasn’t been reported well in the UK (or at all).

      Glad you enjoyed the blog and I hope you continue to read it.

      I hope Burgos do well in the remainder of the season, I will be looking for their results.

      Gracias otra vez y saludos de Murcia