Sid Lowe ¡s an old friend to the blog. He writes about soccer in several English media outlets, and even so, we’ve included him in many different entries. This is because he has the great tendency to see beyond the scores.
This time, he’s writing for the UK version of ESPN, which has published his amazing article on the King’s Cup men’s soccer final that is going to be played in Seville on April 18 between Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao.
His article goes over all those things that make these Basque teams so special, starting with the high concentration of Lower Basque Country teams in the Spanish Premier League: five, which means a full quarter of the whole list.
He also covers the rivalry between the two teams that will be playing in Seville next month. But this rivalry quickly turns into brotherhood between the fans off the field. This is a reality that many are determined to change, for the worse, as it’s one of the marks of identity of the Basque fans: rivals in the stadium, brothers outside it. We never tire of remarking on how some media, especially, seem bound and determined to use soccer as a tool to destroy Basque nationalism.
Sid Lowe has no doubt: Seville will be a three-color event. Not just the red, white, and blue of the two teams (red and white for Athletic, blue and white for Real), but also red, white, and green. And we’re sure that there will be some very “loud” moments.
And we wouldn’t be surprised if this whole “coronavirus crisis” (which is scarier in the media than in reality) got used to justify holding the match with no audience present, thereby preventing what is quite commonplace in our stadiums for the past few decades: showing our lack of affection for the highest authorities in the Kingdom of Spain, be it in a “state of regency” or not. We’ll see.
In the end, this is a great article that’s worth reading because it reminds us what is important about Basque soccer. This is especially evident at the end:
Earlier in the season, Garitano — Athletic manager, Real Sociedad shareholder, a former player at both clubs and at Eibar and Alaves too — said that the Basque derby is always the biggest game of the season. This Basque derby is the biggest game of any season, ever.
ESPN – 6/3/2020 – Great Britain
Copa del Rey final a Basque derby that will be bigger than any game in Spain this year
The Basque Country accounts for 1.4% of Spain’s territory, 4.9% of its population and 20% of its first-division teams. Twenty-five percent if you count Osasuna, which you probably should. It also accounts for 100% of its Copa del Rey finalists. The best cup there has ever been has a final there has never been, a unique occasion unmatched anywhere. And, no, that really is no exaggeration. This is as good as it gets. There may be no words to fully express what it means, maybe not even for the street poets that compete as fiercely as their football teams do.