May 24th, 2014


Champions tonight!

Jorge Luis Borges said, “Soccer is popular because stupidity is popular.” I can prove that -- the part about stupidity, at least.

Tonight, Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid will play each other in Lisbon for the UEFA Champion’s League 2014 final. Yes, both of Madrid’s soccer teams came out on top of all Europe’s best professional teams, and one of them will win the big game tonight.

Excitement reigns in Madrid. (And in Lisbon.) Tonight the stadiums for both teams here in Madrid will be open to the public and will show the game on big screens so their fans can enjoy the excitement in good company.

In addition, the head of the regional government thought about putting up a big screen in Sol, a downtown plaza, so all fans could come and watch, but the municipality, which controls the plaza, objected. A city official asked if it would occur to anyone to put fans of rival teams together in the same space in any other city in the world. Common sense said no. In addition, the two politicians are in the same political party, which is subject to wild infighting these days, and putting those factions in the same space is equally unwise. So that big screen won’t happen.

Then, tradition calls for the fans of the winning teams to celebrate around either the Fountain for Cybele for Real Madrid, or the Fountain for Neptune for Atlético. However, tomorrow is an election day, and the law forbids any sort of electioneering on the day before an election, and a public gathering could run afoul of that. Someone might discuss politics.

So the city consulted with the Election Junta to see if the celebrations would be okay – and, for that matter, the screens in the stadiums. The Junta said the stadiums are closed, private spaces with security, so they won’t effect the election. The formal celebrations at the fountains are scheduled for after the polls close tomorrow, so they will have no effect on the election.

The informal celebrations at the fountains right after the game tonight would be impossible to stop, so the Junta has ignored that question entirely.

Politics has been certified safe from soccer. Or vice versa. Hard to tell.

I’ll be cheering for Real Madrid, but if Atlético wins, I’ll be happy for their fans, who have been loyal through some hellish setbacks in recent years. I also know that whoever wins, I’ll hear the celebrating far into the night. But no politics, please.

— Sue Burke