Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Athletic Club de Bilbao are a basque football team from Bilbao in Vizcaya. The club, which was founded by British expatriates in 1898, currently plays in the Primera División, where they have resided since the formation of Spain's national league in 1928. Of the founding league members, only Athletic, Real Madrid, and FC Barcelona have never been relegated. Their biggest international success was in the season 1976-77, losing in the final of the UEFA Cup to Juventus of Turin.
They are known as the Rojiblancos, because of their strip colour: red with white stripes and black shorts; and as Los leones ("the lions"), from the supporter of their coat-of-arms. Their stadium is the San Mamés, also known as La Catedral ("the cathedral" (of football)), which seats 46,500 spectators.
The Athletics are one of the great names of Spanish football. They have been consistently successful over their history, although since the 1980s, championships have eluded them, finding it hard to compete against the great spending power of Real Madrid and Barça. This was compounded by a policy of only signing Basque players which exists to this day; this severely limits the talent pool from which the team can draw. This self-imposed restriction exists as an expression of Basque pride and a belief that they can win with just the "local boys". After 1912, only one non-Spanish player has ever been signed by the club—Bixente Lizarazu, a French Basque who played for the club late in the 1990s. At one time, País Vasco was a breeding ground of great Spanish players, and this worked in their favour. A bumper sticker summarized it as Con cantera y afición, no hace falta importación. ("With homegrown teams and supporters, there is no need for 'imports'".) In the competitive world of modern football, it is not such an advantage.
The Basqueness of players has been interpreted differently from time to time. Miguel Jones , a Negro born in Equatorial Guinea but raised at the Bilbao cantera, couldn't play for Athletic in the 1950s, while other players born abroad with Basque ancestors have in some cases been admitted. This contrasts with the practice of Athletic's Basque rival Real Sociedad, which once had a similar Basque-only policy but abandoned it in 1989.
The attention to cantera (homegrown teams) has led to the paradox that, while many supporters are Basque nationalists, the team has supplied many players to the Spanish national team. Spanish players from other teams were often eclipsed by foreign stars and didn't reach the level required for international matches.
Atlético de Madrid was founded by Basque students in Madrid. The early relationships between both teams are visible in the similar uniforms.
In 2003, in its first season, the women's football team won the Spanish championship.
- Copa del Rey winners 24 times (last 1984).
- Primera División champions eight times (last 1984).
- Spanish Super Cup once, in 1985.
- Chopo , goalkeeper of the Spanish team for many years.
- Bixente Lizarazu, a mainstay of the French national team for many years.
- Zubi, a Spanish national team goalkeeper, and one of the players with most appereances in the national squad.
Players famous by other reasons
- José Antonio Aguirre, first lehendakari (president) of the autonomous government of the Basque Country.
- Javier Clemente , coach for Athletic, the Spanish national team and several others with which he never finished a full season, either was hired or fired during the season.
- Athletic Club de Bilbao Official Site (in English; Basque and Spanish versions also available)
- Voluntad de tradición, an article on the Athletic hiring policy (in Spanish).
- aupaAthletic.com, unofficial site with the latest news and discussions on this football club (Spanish).
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