El “Clásico” and Nationalism

Dec 20, 2020

EDU Resources

What does El Classico say about Spain?

Linking the history of Spain, football and nationalism through a world-famous example of Real Madrid – Barcelona rivalry.

In this article:


"El Clásico", 2009 (Photo: Alejandro Ramos / Source: Wikimedia Commons).

“El Clásico”, 2009 (Photo: Alejandro Ramos / Source: Wikimedia Commons).

History of Spain through history of football

Are you teaching your students about the history of the formation of Spain? Use the Real Madrid – Barcelona rivalry to demonstrate the complex historical background of the process and investigate the role football plays in nationalist conflicts. This activity, developed by Juan Carlos Ocaña, allows your students to learn about the Spanish history through the relatable example of football, while analyzing the links between sport and nationalism and learning about Spanish and Catalan narratives.

Developer Juan Carlos Ocaña about the learning activity:

Nation (community, region, ethnic or religious group, etc.) and business have been the two main engines that move football as a mass show. This activity focuses on “El Clásico”, probably the best example in Europe. Students will learn about nationalist confrontation, quite often falsified, and modern football clubs as global corporations. By learning about football confrontation, students will better understand the main forces that move current Europe.

State formation affecting football rivalry

Students will discuss the smaller details, such as the symbols on Real Madrid and Barcelona’s logos, to explore the backgrounds of the football clubs and the history leading to their well-known rivalry. While learning about the historical narratives behind Spanish and Catalan confrontations, students will be able to discover the role football clubs played in nationalist conflicts. This lesson plan allows students to dive into the history of the Spanish sectarian struggle and state formation, as well as learn how football can be used as a vehicle to construct a nationalist narrative. Engaging class discussions, group work and exercises with maps and images will help students understand the material.

What can we learn from the history of El Clásico?

This learning activity is best suited for high school students aged 15 to 17 years old, learning about the history of Spain, nationalist conflicts and narratives. Although no specific background knowledge is required, the lesson plan might be more beneficial for students who are aware of the Spanish realities and the Real Madrid – Barcelona football rivalry.

Practicing inclusion and understanding

Try this learning activity if you have high school students that:

  • are studying the history of Spanish state formation
  • are learning about the Spanish and Catalan nationalist narratives
  • want to know more about the connection between nationalism and football rivalries
  • would benefit from learning about the role of football clubs as a vehicle of nationalist confrontation.

Get the resource

Access and use the educational resource “El “Clásico” and nationalist confrontation” on Historiana. More activities connecting football and nationalism can be found by typing “nationalism” in the Learning Activities’ search bar on Historiana. This learning activity has been developed by the Football Makes History team member Juan Carlos Ocaña.

Article Tags:   20th century  |   nationalism  |   politics  |   teaching

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