Their Skin In The Game

The Basques, the Catalans and the ‘body politic’ of the Spanish national football team 1

Authored by: Mariann Vaczi

Routledge Handbook of Sport and Politics

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138792548
eBook ISBN: 9781315761930
Adobe ISBN: 9781317646679


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In 2010, a highlight of Spanish nation building during the South African FIFA World Cup was an Adidas commercial promoting the Spanish national team jersey. The commercial was titled Nace de dentro, ‘It is born within.’ It featured two Basque players and an Asturian standing with naked upper bodies, handsome, muscular and sweaty. The players start stripping their own skin digitally, from under which emerges the national symbol of Spain, and the colours red and yellow: the Spanish national team jersey. Against the backdrop of slow-motion soccer field images and dramatic music, a voiceover speaks the words: ‘This jersey is history. It is everything that we suffer for, that we fight for, that we feel and live for. That which unites us is born within.’ Skin is particularly symbolic in Spain. The country is also called piel de toro ‘bull’s skin’, since the shape of the skin cut off from the animal after the bullfight is similar to the shape of Spain. The digital strip of the skin connotes a Spanish expression often used in sports: dejarse la piel, ‘leaving the skin’, or doing one’s best. Skin is the imaginary link between the two ludic spectacles that constitute a temporal axis of Spanish identity, the bullfight of the past, and football of the future.

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