Athletic fans surrounded the team bus in Lezama last Thursday.Javier Zorrilla / EFE
In December 2010, the State Commission against Violence declared the league match between Real Sociedad and Athletic as high risk. Both in Bilbao and San Sebastián, the decision of the officials of the Higher Sports Council caused astonishment. The relations between both clubs were correct, there was no shadow of doubt about the behavior of the fans. PP Marcelino: “The 'bilbainada' of two titles? One by one, please ”
It was evident that none of the people who made that decision knew first-hand how the rivalry between the fans takes place in the streets of the city that hosts the match and in the stands of its stadium. , which has a lot of partying and very little, to say nothing, of violence.
The pitched battles that precede or take place after other rivalry clashes in any other part of the world, including the rest of Spain, have little to do with what it feels like to be in a Basque derby, where the fans share the stage or accept with sportsmanship teasing the winner, whoever he is. The Cup final between Athletic and Real Sociedad (Telecinco, 9.30pm) moves between the fear of being humiliated for months by the family member, friend or coworker, and the illusion of looking with an air of superiority at the brother-in-law, the boss or the family doctor who wears the wrong colors. Everything until the next derby. The love-hate relationship between Athletic and Real does not pass from there, no matter how much social networks and some media have tried to open a gap through other more tortuous paths.
The rivalry always existed. Already in 1910, the chronicles spoke of a match in which there were incidents and noisy protests from the public who threw some stones. The previous year there had been a strong fight in another crash. Athletic left the field but "following some indications", they returned. The Heraldo of Madrid titled his chronicle "San Sebastián against Bilbao."
In 1911 there were more. The championship was played in Getxo, in Jolaseta, and shortly before starting the surprise came from the Royal Society in the form of a letter: “Having heard from many people that our society was willing to detract from the championship and sow weeds, we decided to withdraw , a decision that deserved the praise of all of San Sebastián ”. In 1915, Real Sociedad demanded, in order to play in San Mamés, that the "press campaigns" against their team end.
In 1916, the line-up of Sansinenea, a Real player, mounted another controversy since it forced him to repeat a match. For two months there was a dispute over looking for a field, until the Civil Governor of Gipuzkoa suspended it, “in fear that a disturbance of order could occur.”
The incidents between Athletic and Real, frequent before 1920, subsided until they disappeared in the following decades. That Athletic was one of the powerful in Spanish football for years and Real Sociedad a secondary team, brought about peace. In the 1980s, when both dominated La Liga, the players of both teams used to arrange joint dinners halfway between Bilbao and San Sebastián. When in 1982, the Real played the title in the last match against Athletic, the people of Bilbao did not put up much resistance. It happened the other way around two years later.
Relations soured with the flight of Joseba Etxeberria from Real to Athletic, due to the signing of Zubiaurre, with a contract in force by Real, in a case that ended in a trial, and does two years for the departure of Iñigo Martínez, who paid his clause of 32 million euros. However, the controversies in the offices almost never transcended to the stands. There were several ruptures of institutional relations, but the hobbies continued to mix as always on the streets. There was never a high-risk situation. They would have done it in Seville. Only the pandemic prevented it.
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