A BRIT’S GUIDE TO SPORT IN SPAIN

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Dermot Murnaghan in the Sky News Studio

If you are an expat from the U.K. living in Spain and a sports fan then there is no shortage of sports to follow and even participate in.

Football has been the dominant sport in Spain since at least the second half of the 20th century, so if you followed football back in the U.K. you will be right at home in Spain. La Liga, the top professional league is home to the current Champions League titleholders, Real Madrid, and that club’s rivalry with Barcelona matches or even surpasses any inter-club rivalry you would find back in the U.K. There is a long association between the U.K. and Spain when it comes to football. From Sevilla in the South to Athletic Bilbao in the North, there is a history of clubs founded by British residents. Welsh international Gareth Bale, of Real Madrid, is the latest in a long line of players to have left British shores to play in Spain. Perhaps most famously David Beckham played for Real Madrid between 2003 and 2007.

Basketball is a popular sport in Spain and its profile is much greater than it is in a country such as the U.K., with Liga ACB being one of the major Basketball leagues in Europe. Expats unfamiliar with the sport will find 18 teams in Liga ACB dotted around Spain, with two of the teams based on the ever-popular expat destination, the Canary Islands.

British cycling has enjoyed huge success in recent years, with Chris Froome winning three Tour de France titles following the earlier victory of Bradley Wiggins. The Vuelta a España, or Tour of Spain, is, with the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, one of three Grand Tours and it attracts huge numbers of followers each year as it winds its way across Spain each August and September. With plenty of sunny days, most parts of Spain are perfect for amateur cyclists hoping to get out on the roads, or alternatively to go mountain biking.

Golf is inextricably linked with Spain, thanks in no small way to the heroics of such world-famous players as the late Seve Ballesteros and José María Olazábal, both of whom won major titles. Ballesteros in particular will be long remembered by sports fans in the U.K. for his three victories in the British Open. The Spanish countryside has no shortage of golf courses, many of which are of championship standard and the country’s mild climate ensures year-round suitability for fans of the game.

You will also find a number of more traditionally British sports played in Spain, with many played at local level and actively encouraging participation from expats who have made the country their new home. Cricket has become increasingly popular in Spain, reflected in the development of a European Cricket Performance Centre at the La Manga resort.  

If you follow sports, you will probably want to keep up to date with the latest sports stories from back home in Britain. The weekly interview programme hosted by Dermot Murnaghan on Sky News is a great source for such stories, with leading figures from the world of sport frequently interviewed. Bradley Wiggins recently featured as a guest on the programme.

As a Brit abroad in Spain you will find no shortage of sports to follow, whether as an active participant or as a supporter.

 

 

 

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