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PSP’s Real Madrid primer

Spanish giants Real Madrid come to Philadelphia tomorrow to brave the wrath of Christian Hernandez and the Philadelphia Union.


Madrid has an incredible history both as a soccer club and as a political institution. The club has won a record 31 league titles and 9 European/Champions League trophies. Their most famous President was a close ally of General Franco and a lot of Madrid’s success in the post-Spanish Civil War years (success that put them on the road to their current mega-club status) came from Santiago Bernabeu’s ability to extract favors from the fascist government.

Big names

Real Madrid has always been a home for the world’s best players, but in the past decade a policy of backing up the truck for big names has become more official. With Florentino Perez’s election as President, the era of the Galacticos began. Zidane, Beckham, Ronaldo, Figo, Roberto Carlos together on the same pitch.

More big names

Unfortunately, Perez promised big signings and no more debt when he was elected and he only delivered on the former. He lost the presidency to Ramon Calderon in 2006. But with arch-rivals Barcelona in the ascendancy, Perez returned in 2009. He brought in superduperstars Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Kaka, and signed up Xabi Alonso to get them the ball. A year later, Mesut Ozil joined the team after a breakout performance in the World Cup.These are the players that will meet their match on Saturday against your Philadelphia Union.

Just the facts

  • Real Madrid had a typical European soccer club birth. A group of students playing casual kickarounds became serious about the sport and decided to secure some land for a more permanent field. On March 6, 1902, Madrid Football Club was made official when the club’s 22 articles and regulations were presented to the Civil Governor of the Province, Jose Sanchez-Guerra.
  • In November of 1947, Real Madrid became the first Spanish team to wear numbered jerseys.
  • The “Real” in the club’s name originally came from the club’s close association with King Alfonso XIII, who gave the club the royal family’s official patronage in 1920.
  • On April 14, 1931, Madrid removed the “Real” from their name (and the crown from their logo) because, well, there was no more king.
  • On January 1, 1941, the “Real” was restored to Madrid’s name, but it was meant to connote sporting royalty.
  • During the Franco years in Spain, Real Madrid had close ties to the Fascist regime. Driven by influential political mover and club President Santiago Bernabeu (after whom the club’s stadium is named), Madrid became the sporting face of the Franco government.
  • Real Madrid’s famous hymn was replaced as the official anthem to celebrate the club’s centenary in 2002. You can hear both anthems here.
  • The fastest goal in team history was scored by Ronaldo. 14 seconds.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo scored 40 league goals last season, setting the club’s all-time league record.
  • Five players have won the FIFA Ballon d’Or while playing for Real Madrid. Can you name them? Hint: None of them are Spanish.

What do you think?

So who is your favorite Real Madrid player? Or are you an out-and-out Barcelona fan?

And, most importantly, how loud will you cheer when Sheanon Williams strips Ronaldo, streaks upfield, plays the ball to Amobi Okugo who executes a signature spin-turn and slots in Danny Mwanga, who stepovers past everyone, their mother and their mother’s mother and backheels past Iker Casillas?

Pretty loud, right?


  1. David R. Stampone says:

    This here lefty Madridista loyalist — & increasingly Union-impressed, typically unconditional supporter of all Philly teams — would luv to comment further, BUT, for now, in semi-brief: Thanx MUCH for post! Can NOT let the opp’ty of Real’s visit here (w/ ample on-field star-power, hopefully?) pass by w/o this kinda intriguing “primer,” which, even tho I’ve some def probs w/, can help deepen/enhance DelVal knowledge/appreciation of Footie’s glorious global history. (IMHO, the key for many soccer exposure-deficient American fans to get up to speed on the sport/history/trends/etc. is to explore the Great Clubs, in depth.) All that noted: FUCK this/any Real Madrid hateration, be it subtly implied or blatant, based on RM CF’s alleged political identity, namely by linkage to Franco/Fascists/the lousy like!!! Pls., read closely the thorough, excellent article on reality vs. perception vs. pointed misrepresentation of Real Madrid’s alleged politics thru the yrs that is linked to in the PSP “primer” above. Here’s a tellling, pithy quote from same: “…The notion that Real Madrid is or has been a Fascist club is, however, a fallacy; its political situation not being as black and white as some have sought to portray it…” Good stuff, well-supported. Too, I’ve always been particularly annoyed & well aware of how much the “Real Madrid as Unfairly Advantaged Bad Guy” view has been advanced by FC Barcelona supporters (more than anybody), & has now spread to an unprecedented extent by Madrid SuperArchRival Barca’s vast planetary popularity & quasi-hegemony (internat’ly: arguably; in La Liga: even more arguably – tho, heh, they CAN be beaten [Copa del Rey!]). Addressing that, another quote: “…While major books such as Jimmy Burns’ “Barça: A People’s Passion” propound the conspiracy theories often vented by followers of FC Barcelona and the Basque club Athletic Bilbao, clear evidence of Real Madrid being strongly favoured by the Fascist regime is difficult to come by…” Got that? I l will leave it @ that for now … but one last declarative (& read the linked Real article as needed for full comprehension: ¡Viva el Colonel Antonio Ortega!

  2. David R. Stampone says:

    Sorry — I just can’t end my prev. comment so cryptically; again, this quote from the exceptional article you linked to (in yer problematic if ultimately laudable “PSP’s Real Madrid primer”) above: “…Indeed, during the [Spanish] Civil War [1936-39, seen as WWII forerunner/left vs. right struggle, etc.], Real Madrid’s president had been Colonel Antonio Ortega, a man committed to Communist ideology, a member of the Socialist Party executive, an officer in the ranks of the left-wing militia and a public opponent of General Franco (Bolloten: 1991, p.486-487). In a remarkable chapter in the club’s history it’s previously highly exclusive facilities were thrown open to the public, membership fees were slashed and the Chamartín stadium became a centre for Soviet-style displays of proletarian sporting endeavour (Goldblatt: 2007, p.302). In a series of political gestures completely contrary to the right-wing ideology the club is commonly thought to have always held, Real Madrid became a hub for the organisation of Madrid’s socialist community…” So, IMHO, a verity: owners & team presidents come & go — along w/ their ideologies, etc., etc.; but as long as most TEAMS exist/remain, they are best perceived/accurately understood in association with the CITIES they “represent.” One upon a time, I was a DelVal-homesick 15-yr-old Flyers/Phillies/et al. fanatic, whose family had been moved (by dad’s job) for a few yrs to a v. alien-feeling Madrid, in post-Franco years; by chance, home was a few blocks north of Bernabeu Stadium. I wasn’t much for soccer then — hockey was sooo much more exciting, higher-scoring, etc. — BUT, one visit inside Bernabeu for a game — and then, watching games on tv, reading rabid Madrid/Spanish football press, experiencing the excitement in the Spanish capital when FC Barca came to town, etc. — hooked me but good. Real Madrid fan Por Vida, amen. And I luv The Team in substantial, ineffable part, cuz I luv The City — and that team became my team cuz it was “Our Team” …

  3. Nato Monahano says:

    ULTRA SUR!!!

    Simepre Fieles

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