The World Cup a Unifying Influence in Ronda

Yesterday Ronda’s many bars were packed with enthusiastic Rondeños paying homage to the national sport, wearing red shirts with yellow ribbon, painting their faces with red and yellow stripes, and singing Spanish football songs. Sadly, the Spanish national side couldn’t break through a determined Swiss defence, losing 1-0 and placing Spanish hopes of a World Cup final in jeopardy.

Fernandes 52nd minute goal that gave Switzerland three points in Group H was a bungled affair, but credit must be given to the Swiss for a determined game that put Spain at the bottom of Group H and a World Cup final into jeopardy. Expat commentators in Ronda assured Ronda Today that Spain’s next games would correct this tragedy, and that Switzerland and Honduras won’t make it to the second round, however international sport commentators seem to disagree. Spain hasn’t been written off yet, but it will be tough to recover against teams emboldened by their loss.

The sense of anguish at the end of the game was overwhelming, whilst some of the local English expatriate community cruelly had the last laugh after enduring several days of taunts from their Spanish friends over England’s draw with the United States.

Spain is a country of people who are not shy of showing off their emotions, this is the main reason so many foreigners choose to live here, and the atmosphere of a major football game is no different. In Ronda strangers become brothers, and strangely, they remain friends after the game, often meeting in bars and calling each other ‘buena gente’.

As a foreign resident in Spain, the writer chose to watch the game dressed in a red shirt, and my friends plastered a red and yellow flag over my face and arms with a flag colored roll-on, just like a larger version of a woman’s lipstick. The discount stores in Ronda sell these for a couple of Euros, but for the next game, this writer will be sporting a Spanish bandera and just maybe a Torres shirt.

Living in Spain is more than just the sun or the food, joining Spaniards for football games is a great way to meet new people, it demonstrates solidarity with your neighbours. And sharing the disappointment when Spain loses is part of that.

The biggest crowd of Spanish fans was at Huskies Sports Bar with multiple screens setup for patrons, helped with free red and yellow shirts for fans who bought two pints, and the staff eagerly moving a step ladder around the floor so that fans could add their comment and signature to the huge Spanish flag stapled to the ceiling.

Spain lost this game, but Ronda gained several new Spaniards, myself included, as well as several students from the Spanish School for Foreigners (PIEE), and another group of foreign residents who abandoned their white shirts to join their new friends.

FIFA have recently said that football is a global phenomenon with the potential to bring people together, and in Ronda that was evident, not only at Huskies, but in every bar and plaza in Ronda. The hope is that Spain will win their next two games for a place in the second round. They can do it, or so say their fans in Ronda.