Nationalism in Spanish Football in the 20th Century

Nov 8, 2020

EDU Resources

Do political changes and ideologies influence football?

In the last century, football has flourished and grown, becoming one of the most widely appreciated and followed sports. Especially in the 20th Century, the importance of football and the value it had for supporters and politicians kept growing, irrespective of the political regime of a country, or of changes of regimes. But to what extent do political changes, nationalism, and other ideologies influence the development of football?

Fernando Gallego, Historian at Sevilla FC, comes back with a second activity, in which the example of Spanish Football in the 20th Century is used to help teachers and students tackle this very question.

This activity focuses on the history of Spain during the period 1902 – 1982, and in particular on the influence of the Spanish Civil War and of Franco’s Regime on Spanish Football. By engaging with a series of group and individual activities, students will understand the impact of nationalist policies on sports, and appreciate the value of independent sport.

In this article:


General Moscardó hands over the Copa del Generalísimo, 1939 (Photo: Joseph Brangulí / ABC de Sevilla)

General Moscardó hands over the Copa del Generalísimo, 1939 (Photo: Joseph Brangulí / ABC de Sevilla).

The Spanish Civil War

This activity is designed for students aged 15-17, and uses group discussion, source analysis, and reading exercises to investigate sports policies in Spain before, during, and after the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s Regime. All the activities are accompanied by a text that details the main events of the Spanish Civil War, and are designed to deepen students’ understanding of the concept of nationalism in football.

Some exercises include the development of a glossary of relevant terms when tackling civil wars, the analysis of historical photos and quotes, group discussions in which students are asked to argue their opinion based on given sources, and the completion of a timeline. You can use this activity if: 

  • you are teaching the Spanish Civil War (or another civil war) and want to help your students understand the key events and how a change of regime (especially when violent) can influence elements of everyday life; 
  • you want your students to understand and value the importance of independent sport;
  • you want your students to exercise their ability to argue and debate in the classroom;
  • you want your students to understand the concept of nationalism and its effect on everyday life.

Regime changes’ influence on football symbols

Did you know that there is a variety of Football crests and badges, in Spain, that displays a crown? Have you ever wondered why that is so? Or what happened to these crests during Franco’s Regime? This is one of the many examples of how regime changes and nationalism influence symbols that everyone knows and many love. By analysing the change of the badges of internationally renowned football teams, including Real Madrid, or RCD Barcelona, your students might have a second look next time they choose a side in FIFA. This analysis can be transferred to local football teams as well, thus making sure that this activity is relevant not only for Spanish students, but for any classroom investigating regime changes’ effects on everyday life.

PHOTO Gallery

General Moscardó hands over the Copa del Generalísimo, 1939 (Source: Sevilla FC Archive)

General Moscardó hands over the Copa del Generalísimo, 1939 (Source: Sevilla FC Archive).

Get the resource

Check out this ready-to-use lesson plan “Nationalism in Spanish Football in the 20th Century” on Historiana.

If you are intrigued by the possibility to analyse football crests to learn about local history and identity formation, keep an eye for another learning activity developed by our team called “Identity Through a Badge”

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

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