It was a pleasure to be the guest of Footy Talks and La Liga at McKibbin’s Irish Pub on Bishop last Saturday for their event which included a live screening of the ElClassico in which Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 1-0 at The Bernabeu.
Also on display was the La Liga trophy, while the event included a pre-game chat show featuring former Impact favourite Patrice Bernier, Arcadio Marcuzzi, and President of Blaugrana, the only Official Barcelona Supporters’ Club in Canada, Michael Miller. The chat was facilitated and excellently hosted by Genevieve Tardif.
The game itself was settled by Ivan Rakitic, his goal in the 26th minute bringing the majority of the large crowd assembled, to life. It was not a good day for Les Meringues. As well as being heavily outnumbered at the venue, they weren’t given too much to shout about by their favourites, but the afternoon certainly did give an idea as to the feeling there is for FC Barcelona in Montreal.
For sure, it was more than a little strange to be sat in an Irish pub in downtown Montreal watching El Classico live, whilst below the TV screen in a glass presentation case sat the La Liga trophy both clubs are aspiring to capture.
But nevertheless, great to see La Liga extending its reach to Canada, and wonderful to see any event like this being so well attended, underlining that football culture is as alive and well in Montreal as it is in most other parts of the globe.
The organizers are to be applauded, same goes too for La Liga which recently abandoned its plan to stage a match from their domestic program here in North America.
Like all domestic football, La Liga is first and foremost for the match-going Spanish football fan, and as such all matches in the competition should continue to be played in the classic league format within the country’s own borders.
Of course it’s an attractive proposition for North American fans to get to see the likes of Barcelona play a competitive fixture (Barcelona v Girona was the suggested target fixture) on their continent, but what about the loyal fans who support both clubs week in, week out? Why should they be left unconsidered back in Catalunya for the sake of what would be ultimately a cash grab, one in which those that can afford, would be required to travel across an ocean to support their team in a domestic fixture.
Who knows where it all might have ended? Already there had been suggestions about a whole round of Spanish league fixtures being staged Stateside, although you’d wonder at the interest in for instance, Rayo Vallecano v Leganes.
Such forms of marketing is not good for the sport, and some things like tradition, football history and culture are simply just more important than money, even in this modern day, or perhaps especially in this modern day.
This writer much prefers the type of event I attended last Saturday. It’s less of a gimmick, which is what playing a La Liga match outside of Europe most certainly is.
If I want to go see a La Liga game live, I’d much rather satisfy that desire by doing as I’ve done in the past. Go to Barcelona, Valencia, or Madrid, buy a match-ticket and savour the atmosphere, tradition and immensely rich footballing culture that undoubtedly exists in a wonderful country.