Sports In Spain
Posted by Sammie
Getting active in Spain: go outside, inside and on the water. Information about the most popular sports in Spain, where to watch them and where to play them. Also information about the incredibly diverse range of sporting options available throughout the country
One of the most incredible things about Spain is that there’s something for everyone. The geographical diversity of the country’s landscape provides for amazing opportunities when it comes to sports in Spain. Although sport in Spain has been traditionally dominated by football (soccer as the North Americans call it) Spain offers a vast selection of sporting options ranging from the ocean to the mountains. Today, Spain is a major world sports power especially since holding the Summer Olympics in Barcelona in 1992. Many say the Olympics was the kick start to sports such as golf, skiing and water sports becoming increasingly popular all over Spain. These sports along with cycling and bull fighting provide people with unlimited options no matter what season it is.
Here are some of Spain’s most popular sports. Where to watch them, where to play them and how to participate in sports in Spain.
Firstly a look at Spain’s ‘second religion’…Football!
Football in Spain
It is said that Football (futbol to the Spanish) is like a religion in Spain. However it’s probably more accurate to say that religion is like football due to the incredible devotion expressed by the Spanish for their beloved sport. Instead of going to church on Sunday mornings people all over the country are watching Football.
Spain boasts some of the greatest football teams in the world arguably only beaten by England and Italy. Real Madrid, is the most successful soccer team in Europe with FC Barcelona close behind. Football in Spain is relatively inexpensive with tickets available at times for less than 20€ from the clubs themselves. Realistically you should be looking to pay about 35€ to see a game unless you purchase tickets from a tout in the street.
Getting to Know Spanish Football
The Spanish Football season runs from mid September to mid May. There are four professional leagues with promotion and relegation taking place at the end of each season. Each team will play each other once at home and once away within a season. The highest league of football is La Liga with 20 teams in its division. La Liga is widely regarded as one of the world’s strongest divisions containing clubs such as Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Valencia CF. La Liga is often referred to in Spain as just Primera however it has always featured a Segunda División currently designated Segunda Division A. The lower leagues, Segunda Division B and Tercerca Division are amateur and regionalized.
When To Watch Football In Spain:
- Saturday -There is one La Liga game per week and it is played on Saturday.
- Sunday-The rest of the domestic games are played on Sunday.
- Tuesday-50% of all Champion League games (Europe’s biggest cup competition) are played on Tuesday. If a Spanish team is involved it will be advertised in the bars.
- Wednesday-The rest of the Champion League games are played on Wednesday.
- Thursday-UEFA cup is the secondary European Cup after the Champions League. If a Spanish team is involved it will be advertised.
Must See Football Games in Spain:
If you want to see what football’s really about in Spain make sure to catch one of these amazing matches. Many of these games will sell out early (especially Real Madrid vs. FC Barcelona) but don’t worry because any bar or cafeteria (at least any reputable ones) will definitely be showing the match.
For more details on when the matches take place see www.soccer-spain.com
Spanish Football Games Not To Miss:
- Real Madrid vs Barcelona-Twice a year Real Madrid and Barcelona face off in what is considered to be two of the best and most important football matches of the year. There is also the added factor that this is Nationalistic Spain vs. Catalunya.
- Sevilla vs Real Betis-When these two teams face each other it is always a party no matter what the outcome. The Seville Derby is well supported with an average attendance of 50 000 plus people.
- Deportivo de La Coruna vs Celta de Vigo-The main two teams from the north-west tip of Spain have a notorious rivalry during the Galicia Derby.
- Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid – Real Madrid seem to have more of a middle to upper class following where as Atletico Madrid are supported by the working man. Atletico Madrid has gotten used to losing but when they do win it’s a wild party celebrated throughout the city.
If you’re catching a game take note that kick-off times are only published once a week after the television stations have had their picks. Bars showing the games will have the kick-off times published in the windows.
Cities Showcasing Exceptional Football Games:
If you live in any of these cities or are looking to travel to catch a good game, look out for some amazing matches during the football season.
- Barcelona-League champions in 2005 and 2006, they also won the European championship in 2006. Playing in the heart of Barcelona in Nou Camp, Europe’s largest football stadium with a capacity to hold 120,000, they feature football stars such as the Brazilian Ronaldinho & Spain’s Puyol.
- Madrid- FIFA (Football’s world governing body) recently named Real Madrid as the most successful soccer club of the 20th century having won more European championships than any other team on the continent.
- Bilbao- Atletic de Bilbao, a club seen as a symbol of Basque nationalism, only ever includs players from the Basque county on its roster.
- Sevilla-The south of Spain is famous for its passion and latino love for life. This extends to the football club of Andalusia’s capital which although not as successful as Real Madrid and Barcelona, still draws over 55 000 people to watch and celebrate every game. They were the 2006 UEFA cup winners and will be challenging Madrid and Barcelona during the 2007 football season.
Golf in Spain
(Also known as…)The Fastest Rising Sport In The Country It’s Time To Go Golfing In Spain
Another increasingly popular sport in Spain is Golf. Spain has become the golfing mecca of Europe as the country offers both world class courses amongst beautiful scenery in a climate ideal for playing all year round. Golf’s appeal is rapidly growing amongst the Spanish people and the number of quality golf courses in Spain is increasing at a phenomenal rate with many property developments actually being built around golf courses themselves. This is happening largely around the Costa del Sol or the ‘Costa del Golf’ as it is sometimes called.
The Costa Del Sol is recognized as one of the world’s best golfing destinations with courses for all levels. One of the fundamental appeals of the Costa Del Sol is its incredible location as it borders both the shores of the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees in the north. Also known as the ‘Sunshine Coast’ the Costa Del Sol boasts more than 30 courses including Spain’s most famous golf course, Valderrama, which hosted the Ryder cup in 1997 and the World Golf American Express Championships in 1999 and 2000. The club has also become the home of the prestigious Volvo Masters tournament (the European Tour’s flagship championship).
Where To Golf In Spain?
No matter where you live in Spain there’s a golf course close to home.
- Almeria-In the north eastern end of Andalucia you can play golf in Europe’s only desert. The Valle del Este and Desert Springs courses are two first class courses surrounded by desert making you feel like you’re anywhere else in the world, except in Spain.
- Catalunya- Catalunya has several wonderful courses including the PGA “Golf de Catalunya” near Girona and the highly rated Emporda Golf Club.
- Murcia-The La Manga resort in the province of Murcia in south east Spain has three of Europe’s finest courses and has played host to five Spanish opens. The Costa Blanca, Costa Azahar and Costa Dorada along the east coast also offer some great courses that are interspersed amongst the coastline’s popular tourist resorts. Las Ramblas at Torrevieja, La Sella at Denia and nearby Oliva Nova are also amongst the many east coast resort complexes. This area has attracted ex-pat buyers and golf crazy holidays goers, especially in the past few years.
Notable Courses Across The Country:
- San Roque Club:-18 holes, Par 72. San Roque courses represent an exacting challenge for golfers of all abilities. Advanced booking is advised. Located: San Roque, 126km near Gibraltar For More Information on location, prices and availability check out: http://www.sanroqueclub.net or call (+34) 956 613 030
- Club Golf De Sotogrande- 27 holes ,Par 72 Located: Cadiz and borders the sea. For More information on location, prices and availability check out: http://www.golfsotogrande.com
- Club De Golf Valderrama-18 holes, Par 72, hosted The Ryder cup in 1997 Prices: Green Fee (Monday to Friday)-260 Euros, Weekend-290 Euros PGA Professional rate: 180 Euros Valderrama Golf Day Package: 400,Euros Caddy:45 Euros (previous reservation necessary) Buggy (GPS included): 55 Euros Electric trolley (con GPS): 25 Euros Hand trolley: 8 Euros For More information on location and availability check out: http://www.valderrama.com
(assistance for this section provided by the folks at Golf This Canada)
Although not the most active sport in Spain, it is one of the most entertaining as well as the most controversial. Bullfighting is the biggest sport in Spain as well as an integral part of Spanish history, art and culture. The Bullfights were started in the village squares and became formalized with the building of the bullring in Ronda in the late 18th century.
All major cities have bull rings. For example there are 70 bullrings in Andalucia alone with the oldest being Ronda and the most important being Sevilla. The bullfights normally begin early afternoon with prices for seats varying depending on whether you’re in or out of the sun. (get there early to get a good seat) A matador is usually dressed with his satin traje de luces (suit of lights) which are generally decorated in gold but the most popular colours to wear in the fight are red, black, green, blue and white. Yellow is never worn not even by spectators as it is considered to be unlucky and toreros are highly superstitious.
How Does a Bullfight Work?
As controversial as bullfighting is both amongst locals in Spain and to foreigners, it is an exceptional experience and something to see at least once. During a bullfight the fighting follows a strict sequence of events. Firstly there is the entrance of the bull, the picador, the banderillos and finally the matador (bullfighter). Spanish-style bullfighting is called a corrida de toros, and is also named fiesta brava. In a traditional corrida three toreros, also called matadores each fight two out of a total of six bulls, each of which is at least four years old and weighs up to about 600 kg.
Bullfighting season in Spain runs from March to October and the fights that attract the most spectators are the ones held during a fiesta.