Spanish Football – Matchday Atletico Madrid in the Vicente Calderon

It is said that Football in Spain comes a very close second behind Catholicism as the national religion. If this is true then it can be said that, in Madrid, Atletico Madrid come a very close second behind Real Madrid as the capital city´s favourite sporting attraction.

Whilst the history of Real Madrid is one of European championships and domestic domination that of their cross city neighbours Atletico Madrid is one of «nearly men» and barren trophy cabinets. Such has become the commonality of spectacular capitulations from winning positions that the club and the fans are known as, «los suffrodores,» the sufferers!

If Atletico are that poor on the football field (and there is no evidence to the contrary) what drives 55,000 people to turn up week in, week out, at the traffic congested city centre Vincente Calderon stadium?

The matchday experience!

Take the party atmosphere of the Rio carnival and the passion of a political rally and you still have not arrived at the intensity generated on Atletico Madrid matchdays. From the devout Atletico supporters, known as «Ultras» and who populate the southern end of the stadium, there comes a three hour assault on the senses. The only brief respite from the barrage of noise being when the teams change ends at half time.

Football matches in «la liga», The league, typically start at 1700 on a Sunday afternoon (this is frequently changed to meet TV demands) however the matchday experience starts far earlier at around 1300. In the numerous small bars around the ground and even up to 3km´s away the Atletico faithful are preparing to enjoy one of Spains other great traditions: Lunch!

As in the rest of Spain, Lunch is a two hour marathon of five or six different Spanish dishes accompanied by and washed down with copious amounts of beer or wine during which players of a bygone era are remembered, team selection criticised and games replayed in the minds of those present. Rapidly the Salt, Pepper and Sauce bottles are rearranged as a particular goal or movement is re-enacted to shouts, screams and arguments of those straining their memories of thirty years past.

With the relaxed affair of lunch over by 1500, and notwithstanding the vocal chords being sufficiently lubricated, the crowd begins to move towards the street party building in the neighbourhood immediately surrounding the Vicente Calderon.

Thoroughfares are closed off by the police as the streets rapidly fill with a sea of singing red and white punctuated only by the sound of drums and horns. This happens every Atletico Madrid matchday and every matchday the staff of the many small bars lining these roads try valiently and fail to serve refreshments to the crowds on their doorstep.

«Atleti! Atleti! Atleti!» Is the dull roar that becomes more distinct as you approach the stadium itself. Having arrived a good thirty minutes before the match is due to start the «Ultras» are starting to whip up the rest of the crowd so that as kick-off approaches the sound of singing, chanting, drums and trumpets has blurred into one indistinguishable noise. Five minutes before kick off and as the teams are walking out onto the hallowed turf the PA system crackles into life and fifty-five thousand voices sing as one the «Atletico Hymn.» Should the players have needed reminding how important the game is the flowers placed at the side of the corner flag in remembrance of those players who died in the Spanish civil war certainly brings things into focus.

What follows the referees short blast on the whistle to start the game is 90 minutes of continuous vocal encouragement of those who were the red and white stripes. Well almost continuous as this may be interuppted for the singing of a couple of choice songs questioning the origin or the virtues of the referee, the opposition or the other team from up the road (Real Madrid).

Almost as a relief the final whistle blows, as the referee brings proceedings on the field to a halt, however for the Atletico Madrid fans this signals a mad rush to the nearest bars and restaurants to analyize the days performance and to quench those parched throats!

With an atmosphere like this and an enterance price of less than twenty euros it is easy to see why those 55,000 hardy souls are willing to endure a stadium, that is only a quarter covered, to see their team flounder in rain in the middle of December.

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La Liga Rules for Non-European Players

La Liga or La Liga BBVA is the top-level professional club football competition in Spain. It is considered one of the most popular as well as competitive domestic leagues throughout the world, with English Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 being other most viewed national leagues. Just like every football league in the world, La Liga is also guided by specific rules as prepared by the Spanish football authority in alignment with the FIFA guidelines. Let us now take a closer look at the La Liga rules for the non-EU players.

Rules for Non-European Players in La Liga

According to the rules in La Liga, a club playing in the top division Spanish football league is not allowed to recruit more than three non-EU players. The same figure is 2 for the second division football clubs (LigaAdelate). The clubs in the Segunda Division B are not allowed to recruit any non-EU player. The clubs relegated to the second or third division are, however, permitted to retain the non-EU players until their contracts expire.

According to a decision adopted by the Spanish Federation, the teams playing in La Liga and the second division football in the country should make an optimum use of the rules and construct their squads with the foreign payers as many as permissible by the authority.

Citizenship for Foreign Players

As per La Liga rules, the players can claim citizenship of Spain from their native lands. A non-European player can apply for Spanish citizenship. However, he must play for five years in Spain in order to be eligible for Spain citizenship. Furthermore, the players arriving from Caribbean, African and the Pacific counties (commonly referred to as ACP countries) are not included in the non-EU category due to the Kolpak Ruling.

Arsenal

From La Liga, we will head our way towards English Premier League side Arsenal. Fondly called as the Gunners, they are one of the most successful Premier League sides in England. Currently managed by Arsene Wenger, Arsenal have their own home ground at the Emirates Stadium. They have produced some of the big names in the world football and attracted several top-tier players to London.

Achievements by Arsenal

Arsenal has a good number of silverware in their collection. The club has won Premier League titles 13 times. They won their last Premier League title in 2004 and currently lead the league table to make it 14 in their profile. They have won FA Cup 12 times in their history and lifted FA Community Shield.

Arsenal honors are not limited to only achievements within domestic field but also extended to international level. They have won UEFA Champions League as well as former UEFA Europa League (Former UEFA Cup). They are also the winner of FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup. In 1994, Arsenal wrapped up UEFA Cup Winners Cup.

Arsenal has several stars on their board. They brought German International Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid on a club record deal in summer of 2013.

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