The past is an illusion: On Beticos, Sevillistas, and stagnation in Southern Spain

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Over the course of the past six months I’ve spent a considerable amount of time conducting research on both nationalism and market integration in football as part of a long-term thesis project. On January 9th and 10th, I attended both Real Betis and Sevilla’s Copa del Rey matches. The disparate experiences seen in the neighborhoods that house the teams, Heliopolis and Nervion respectively, revealed the lasting effect of the financial crisis on the game and offered a view into the state of the coming years. This micro-level experience fell in line with my macro-level my analyses. First: football responds to the market before the market in economic downturns and slower in recoveries, and second: that regional identities are magnified in times of economic crisis. Oh, and I also had a blast.

My week in Sevilla was a performance piece. I had elaborately designed to evade cultural superstition and sideways glances of nationalistic scorn so that I could see what being a ‘Sevillista’ or a ‘Betico’ really represented to the supporters and the neighborhoods that they represent. I wanted to become an insider, to really see what made these people tick. I stayed the bulk of my time in Nervion where there is no reason for tourists to visit the drab unornamented buildings and spent my time in the gap between tapa and racion. Not a tourist, but definitely not a local. My mission was to be a fly on the wall - I had a great time failing with that as my objective.

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Traveling España: Previewing La Liga’s Basque Country, Andalucia, and Valencia

By Kaushik Lakshman, our new La Liga expert. Give him a warm welcome!

The new season of La Liga is almost upon us and there has been a lot shake-ups in several squads. The big two have gotten stronger, but there have also been significant improvements in the next rung of teams. While these may not result in the big two being toppled, there is still lot to look forward to. This preview is split into two parts, and we will take a look at each team, region by region and how their season looks to be headed. In part one, we travel through the Basque country, Andalucia and Valencia; and in part two, the big cities of Madrid and Barcelona, as well as the rest of España.

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