Saturday, May 31, 2008

Football Is History

The dispute between Manchester United and Real Madrid over the signing of Christian Ronaldo by the latter club is demonstrating in an entertaining way the educational value of football. First of all we got Alex Ferguson detailing the past links between Franco's regime and Real Madrid - "el club del regimen". Now his assistant, Carlos Queiroz, has joined in the history lesson; but goes a bit further back. Queiroz, who was briefly trainer of Real Madrid himself, has appealed to Ronaldo's sense of patriotism in a bid to stop Madrid getting the player. Queiroz referred Ronaldo to the case of the town of Olivenza/Olivença, which is currently in (Spanish) Extremadura but which once belonged to Portugal; hence the alternative spellings. I've been in this town and it looks quite different from the other Spanish towns or villages in the area. A few years ago I read that it still appears as being part of Portuguese territory on official maps from that country, and a bit of the history is explained here.  Just in case the Olivenza story wasn't enough to convince the player, Queiroz tossed in the example of Columbus as well, as further evidence of bad treatment of Portugal at the hands of the Spanish. There is a saying in Portugal about the only things they get from Spain being bad winds and bad marriages, maybe they need to add something about nicking their best players.

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