The build-up to Friday’s Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao was overshadowed by a political storm whipped up after Catalan and Basque fans said they would whistle the Spanish national anthem in the stadium. Politicans in Madrid condemned such “separatist” ideas and suddenly a fierce debate was underway about 20th century Spanish history and current national identity. Lots of material then for my first piece for El País’s Trans-Iberian blog.
The most worrying was the permitting of a neo-fascist march through Madrid on the day of the game, while fans from Bilbao and Barcelona soaking up the sun and enjoying themselves elsewhere in the city. I took my camera along and got pics of some very dodgy characters from La Falange and other ultra right-wing groups. The Facebook album can be viewed by anyone by clicking through here.
With so much going on it was easy to forget there was actually a game to play – I provided a preview of the match for the FOX Soccer website, and then a report for the Sport 360 newspaper in Dubai as Barcelona easily outclassed their opponents with goals from Pedro (2) and Messi to claim a 14th trophy of Pep’s four seasons in charge.