The History of Spain Football

Spain Soccer History – Introduction Although the predecessor to modern soccer was most definitely born in Western Europe, historians still can't find a clear reference that would attest that this game was first played in any particular country in this area. England, France and Spain have all been possible candidates and despite the fact that the English and French developed the game at a higher pace (with England organizing the first Football Association, the first National Team and the first set of common rules for the game of soccer), Spain hasn't been far off. Spain Soccer History – Foundations Following the example of the English, who formed their soccer organization in 1863, Spain set foot to creating one of their own, which the named the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF in Spanish) back in 1909. This soccer governing body mostly handled the fresh Spanish national team at first, whose players were taken from the semi-professional and somewhat scarce local competitions taking place in different areas of Spain at that time. In 1927, as soccer started growing on the international level, with the newly formed FIFA planning the first World Cup, Jose Maria Acha, a director at the Arenas Club de Roldan forwarded the idea to create a national league in Spain, engulfing all the top teams of the local championships. It took almost 1 year to settle all the details of this national league, but in 1928 the first La Liga tournament was finally played. Initially, 10 teams were picked to star in this league. Most of them were previous winners of the Copa del Rey, the Spanish Cup, which outdates the league in Spain. These clubs that went on to write the history of Spanish soccer were FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Arenas Club de Getxo, Real Union, Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Aviacion (Atletico Madrid), RCD Espanyol, CE Europa and Racing Santander. The last four did not win the Spanish Cup, but they were runner ups, so they were granted a place in the newly formed league. FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao were the first teams to dominate the Primera Division, sharing titles during the thirties, before the league was put on hold due to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. As La Liga was resumed after the war was over, the initial three great powers of Spanish soccer found themselves up against three new tough competitors, Valencia CF, Sevilla FC and Atletico Aviacion. These shared the titles awarded during the 40s, with Barcelona and Real having only timid performances. Spain Soccer History – Foreign Player Import and the Barcelona/Real Madrid Domination Up until now, the history of soccer in Spain saw very few foreign players coming on the pitch in the Primera Division. This was a direct effect of the strict rules imposed by the Spanish Federation, who didn't allow more than 3 foreign players in a club's squad. However, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid found a way to go around this rule and naturalized their foreign players. Some of the most famous examples of naturalized foreign players include legends such as Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas for Real Madrid and Ladislao Kubala for Barcelona. Barcelona and Real completely dominated La Liga with this new ace up their sleeves and the only team that managed to interrupt this dominance being Atletico Bilbao in 1956. This dual-dominance would soon become a monopoly though, as Real Madrid started its most impressive period of time in the early 1960s. Between 1961 and 1990, Real Madrid managed to win the Primera Division an impressive 19 times in 29 seasons, their string of league successes being briefly interrupted by Real Sociedad, Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona on a few occasions. In the 90s however, the tables would turn, as Johan Cruyff came to FC Barcelona as a manager, assembling what would be known throughout the history of Spanish soccer as the Dream Team. Players such as Pep Guardiola, Txiki Beguiristain, Goikoetxea, Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov or Ronald Koeman took Barcelona blazing through league titles and a European Cup in 1992. Throughout the 90s, Barcelona and Real Madrid constantly battled over the La Liga title, each side having its fair share of wins. Constantly being on top and contending for the league title, these two teams would spark the greatest rivalry in Spain soccer history (and possibly the World, although the Brazilian – Argentinean rivalry comes close).


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