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Purple, Real Madrid, Holy Week...


Purple, it's true, is on the Spanish Republican flag. The purple of the heraldic colours of the Kingdom of Castile, originally crimson but altered with the passage of time. Now, the hint there might be purple on the new Spain shirt released by Adidas has give rise to a palaver that shows no signs of dying down, and I'm returning to the subject. It's a symbol of the bad blood coursing through Spain right now, so different to the mood at the time of the transition from dictatorship to democracy, when the feeling was the complete opposite: mutual understanding, good faith, the ability to put oneself in the shoes of the other, to accept their point of view, to give in, to understand each other. Now nothing is safe, not even the shirt of our outstanding national football team.

Real Madrid's purple stripe

Purple can be understood as representing the Republic just as it could be understood to represent the Nazarenos, the penitents who take part in processions at Easter in Spain and often wear the colour as its one of the liturgical hues used in priests garments. But nobody is thinking that the stripe on Spain's new kit insinuates a devotion to the Holy Week processions. At this juncture, I recall that when the Republic was proclaimed Real Madrid took the crown off their badge and placed, at an angle, a purple band across it. When the war was over, Madrid recovered the crown, but kept the purple band, maybe because the previous version had been somewhat barren without it. Recently, in a re-jig inspired by marketing, the crown was tweaked and the purple changed to blue, for purely aesthetic reasons. Nobody made a fuss.

Real Madrid crest without the crown with the purple band, and after the return of the crown.
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Real Madrid crest without the crown with the purple band, and after the return of the crown.

Spain's perfect selfie

Of course, back then nobody thought of making a link between the Republic and the purple band added to the crest of the Real Madrid team who won those European Cups in black and white. Nor when Zaragoza, Valencia or Sevilla wore purple. People saw no link to the Republic or to Holy Week, just an away kit, with the colour of the Kingdom of Castile. But things are so fraught now in Spain that a blue band crossed with red stripes has led to an almighty kerfuffle. Happily, the players took a selfie in defiance of all those who have been stirring up trouble. In defiance of all those who want to sow division, fear, loathing and hatred. And what a great selfie it is.