Sport in Catalonia: Wikis

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Olympic Stadium Lluís Companys

Sport has an important incidence in Catalan life since the beginning of the 20th Century. The main sports in Catalonia are football, basketball, handball, rink hockey, tennis and motorsport.

One of the main sport events held ever in Catalonia were the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Contents

Structure

Most of the Catalan Sports Federations have a lot of tradition and some of them participated in the foundation of International Sports Federations, as the Catalan Federation of Rugby, that was one of the founder members of the Fédération Internationale de Rugby Amateur (FIRA) in 1934 [1].

Catalonia has officially recognised national teams in some sports competing in world and European championships as Catalonia, but in most sports Catalan sportspeople compete within Spanish national teams.

The best Catalan teams use to participate in European competitions.

Main sports

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Football

FC Barcelona stadium
Catalonia-Euskadi (2006)

Football is considered the most important sport in Catalonia and was introduced in the late 1800s by a combination of mostly British immigrant workers, visiting sailors, and students returning from Britain.

Catalonia also began to produce a number of football clubs including Palamós Foot-Ball Club founded in 1898 and Català SC and Foot-Ball Club Barcelona, both founded in 1899. Soon there were enough clubs to organize a league and in December 1900, Alfons Macaya, the president of Hispania AC, offered a trophy -Copa Macaya- that eventually evolved into the Catalonia championships that was played until 1940, when was disbanded during Franco's dictatorship.

Today football in Catalonia is organized by the Catalonia Football Federation, founded in 1903, and teams from Catalonia compete in La Liga, Copa del Rey, Copa Catalunya and several European competitions as UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup.

Main clubs are FC Barcelona, that was won 3 European Champions leagues, 4 UEFA Cup Winners' Cups, and RCD Espanyol, that has been twice runner-up of the UEFA Cup. Both play in La Liga.

The first match of Catalonia national football team was in 1912 in Paris, with France national football team.


Basketball

Basketball was played for the first time in Catalonia in 1913, in the school Vallparadís of Terrassa, encouraged by Alexandre Galí and Artur Martorell. After the First World War the Belgian Emile Tiberghien incorporated the basketball in his gym in Barcelona. Despite these early experiences, it's commonly accepted that basketball was introduced in Catalonia in 1922 by Father Eusebi Millan when organized the first team in the School "Escoles Pies de St. Anton" in Barcelona.

That year, 1922, was born the first club in Catalonia, the Basketball-Ball Laietà Club (now Club Esportiu Laietà). In those days, basketball was developed mainly through the educational centers and associations of popular and Catholic character. The first game is played in the field of CE Europa on 8 December 1922, with a final scoreboard: Europa 8-Laietà 2.

Former CB Girona

On 15 April 1923 began the first Catalan Basketball Championship that was played until 1957 (except the period of the Civil War). It was undoubtedly the most important competition held in Catalonia before the birth of the Spanish league.

Since 1980 the Catalan Basketball Federation organizes a new Catalan basketball league, played by the best Catalan teams of the ACB league.

FC Barcelona Bàsquet and Joventut Badalona are the most successful Catalan basketball teams, with one Euroleague each one and several Leagues. Some Catalan players are or have been playing in the NBA, as Pau Gasol, Raúl López, Juan Carlos Navarro and Marc Gasol.


Handball

In 1941 were played the first handball matches in Catalonia and one year later was founded a Handball Federation in Catalonia. Then handball was developed over Catalonia, increasing the number of teams every year, being 80 clubs in 1958. Barcelona held the first European Clubs Cup in 1958, a competition ideated by the French Federation.

For the decades of 40's and 50's some handball competitions were held with 11 players, like the Catalonia Championships. But finally the 7 players game was the one that continued.

FC Barcelona

During the 80's and 90's decades the Catalan Federation organized the Catalonian league, played by the best Catalan clubs. On 1997 was replaced by the Pirenees league adding teams from the south of France and the coorganization of the Ligue Languedoc Roussillon. FC Barcelona is the team that has won more times both competitions.

FC Barcelona is one of the best clubs of Europe, with 7 EHF Champions Leagues, 5 EHF Cup Winner's Cups, 20 Liga ASOBAL, 12 Catalonian Leagues, 8 Pirenees leagues, and several more cups. BM Granollers is the other historical Catalan handball club that plays in the Liga ASOBAL.

Enric Masip is one of the best Catalan players ever, with 6 EHF Champions Leagues, 2 EHF Cup Winner's Cups and 7 ASOBAL leagues.


Rink Hockey

The first rink hockey match played in Catalonia was in 1915 with the Indian Hoquei Club and the Sport Hoquei Club, but it were only the preliminaries. In 1925 some matches were played regularly and in 1928 was founded the Catalan Federation. The first Catalonia's Championship was played in 1930 and began a full developing for the sport around Catalonia.

The most successful teams are F.C. Barcelona, with 18 European League Championships, Reus Deportiu with 7 and Igualada HC with 6. They play in the OK Liga.

In the 1992 Summer Olympics, held in Barcelona, Roller hockey was one of three demonstration sports included in the official Olympic programme. This sport's widespread popularity and the existence of top-level competitive teams in Catalonia (such as F.C. Barcelona and Reus Deportiu) prompted the Organizing Committee to suggest its inclusion in the Olympic programme.

In 2004 the Federació Catalana de Patinatge was admitted by the International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS) as a provisional member, and as such it took part in the 2004 Rink Hockey World Championship B in Macau. Catalonia national team won all its matches and was crowned as 2004 B's World Champions and gained the right to be in the 2005 Rink Hockey World Championship. But in the following FIRS congress, in Fresno, the official recognition was revoked because of the opposition of the Spanish federation, in an assembly full of irregularities as the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled, in the case known as the Fresno Case. A new assembly was thus held in Rome, as the CAS verdict had decided, and Catalonia's application was rejected again. Because of this decision, Catalonia could not participate in the 2005 World Championship [2], that finally was won by Spain, with a team composed by all the players from Catalonia.

Since 2004, Catalonia national team has competed in the Blanes Golden Cup with other national teams, and has won the trophy three times.

In 2006 the Catalan roller skating Federation was admitted to the Confederación Sudamericana del Patín and nowadays plays in the Copa America championships.

Sports with officially recognised Catalonia national team

Korfball

Catalonia, European Bowl 2005 champions

Korfball has been played in Catalonia since 1982, and is managed by the Catalan Korfball Federation (FCK).

In 1997 the International Korfball Federation admitted the Catalan Federation of Korfball as a provisional member, and in 2006 it was gtranted full membership.

Catalonia's national team has played 3 World Championships [3] reaching the 8th place in 1999. It has played 2 European Championships with a 6th place in 2006 [4] and won the European Bowl in 2005.

The Catalan competition is divided into a "First division" and 2 "Second divisions" with a number of teams such as C.K. Vacarisses, C.E. Vilanova i la Geltrú, C.K. Assessoria Vallparadís, C.K. Cerdanyola, C.K. Badalona - La Rotllana, Sant Llorenç K.C., Unió Korfbalera Sant Adrià de Besòs, K.C. Barcelona, C.K. Castellbisbal, K.E.C.A., Korfball Valldemia and A.A.E.I.E.S. Secretari Coloma de Barcelona.

Pitch and putt

Pitch and putt is played in Catalonia since the "eighties" when Martin Withelaw build a course in Solius (Santa Cristina d'Aro, Girona). The interest on Pitch and putt has been growing since then, with more than 14000 players in 2008 associated to Catalan Federation of Pitch and Putt (FCPP), and more than 30 courses.

In 1999 the "Associació Catalana de Pitch and putt" was one of the founders of the European Pitch and Putt Association [5], the governing body that develops pitch and putt in Europe and stages a biennial European Team Championships, where Catalonia has reached the second place three times [6].

In 2006 the "Federació Catalana de Pitch and putt" participated in the creation of the Federation of International Pitch and Putt Associations (FIPPA), that stages a biennial World Team Championships. Catalonia has won 2 World Cups (2004 and 2006)

Futsal

Futsal in Catalonia is managed by Catalonia Futsal Federation (FCFS) (Federació Catalana de Futbol Sala), affiliated to European Union of Futsal in 2004 [7] and recognised by the World Futsal association (AMF) in 2006 [8]. And it's also managed by Catalonia Football Federation (FCF) for the teams that play the FIFA game.

Catalonia national futsal team represents Catalonia in AMF World Cup and UEFS Futsal Championship.

Catalonia men's team has played twice in UEFS European Championships, reaching the second place in 2006, and once in AMF Futsal World Cup, in 2007. Also played in the 2007 AMF World Tournament in Yakutia, with the sixth place.

Catalonia women's national team were the Champions in the first Women's World Championship, held in Reus in 2008[9]. In the European Championships 2004 were the runners-up.

Bowling

The Catalan Bowling Federation was admitted by the International Federation of Bowling in 2007. They have played in the AMF World Cup, the European Championships and the Mediterranean Challenge Cup.

Catalan skittles (Catalan: Bitlles catalanes) are also an ancient Catalan game, early documentated in years 1376 and 1402, that consists in knocking down exactly five of the six skittles.

Rugby league

Rugby League in Catalonia is managed by the Catalan Association of Rugby League, member of the Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) since August 2008.

In Northern Catalonia the sport is more popular since many years ago, with a Perpignan-based club Catalans Dragons, that has played in the otherwise British Super League and is helping to the development of rugby league in southern Catalonia.

The first competition took part in 2008, with 3 teams. In 2009 the first Catalonia Championship was played, with 9 teams.

Catalonia national team play their first competition in 2009, the RLEF Euro Med Challenge, with Morocco and Belgium as opponents. Before this, they had played two test matches with Czech Republic and Morocco.

Rugby union

Rugby union was introduced in Northern Catalonia at the end of 19th century, and in Southern Catalonia in 1921, when Baldiri Aleu i Torres founded the Unió Esportiva Santboiana. In 1922 the Catalan Rugby Federation was founded, which was one of the founding members of the Paris-based FIRA - Association of European Rugby [1], from which it was expelled during the Nazi occupation of France during the Second World War, at the behest of Franco's fascist regime. It has still to be readmitted.

In Northern Catalonia, USA Perpignan are the best-known Catalan club. They compete in the French Top 14 and also in European competitions.

In Southern Catalonia UE Santboiana, who have won the Spanish championship seven times, and FC Barcelona, are the best Catalan rugby union teams that compete in the División de Honor.

Australian rules football

Australian rules football has been played in Catalonia since 2000 and is organized by the Catalan Australian Football League (LFAC). Catalonia is member of the Aussie Rules International and Aussie Rules Europe, and has played 3 European Cups (2005[10], 2007 and 2008[11]).

The LFAC was officially created in 2005 and the first teams joining were Belfry Valls, Cornellà Bocs, Valls Fire and Alt Camp.

In 2009 the Catalan league is played by teams of several territories that speak Catalan language: Belfry Valls, Cornellà Bocs (southern Catalonia), Andorra Crows (Andorra), and Perpinyà (Northern Catalonia).

Other sports

Tennis

Tennis began to be practiced in Catalonia in the late nineteenth century, in cities such as Barcelona or Reus, by some British people stablished in Catalonia and members of the Catalan bourgeoisie.

In 1904 was founded the Lawn Tennis Association of Barcelona, who joined as a full member in the Lawn Tennis Association (the international federation in those days). Later, in 1913, it was transformed into Lawn Tennis Association of Catalonia. In 1917 was played the first Catalan Tennis Championship. In all these tournaments, the Barcelona LT was an important organizer.

In 1923 was played the first Indoor World Championship in Barcelona.

Some Catalan players have won Roland Garros: Sergi Bruguera (1993, 1994), Albert Costa (2002) and Arantxa Sánchez Vicario (1989, 1994, 1998); US Open: Arantxa Sánchez Vicario (1994), and the Masters Cup: Àlex Corretja (1998). And also some medals have been won by Catalan tennis players in the Olympic Games: Jordi Arrese, silver in 1992, Sergi Bruguera, silver in 1996, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, silver in 1996 and silver in 1992 in doubles.

The main tournament is Torneo Godó, held in Barcelona on clay surface.

Motorsport

Catalonia Circuit

Motorsport has a long tradition in Catalonia involving many people, with some world champions and several competitions organized since the beginning of 20th century. The Circuit de Catalunya, built in 1991, is one of the main motorsport venues, helding the Catalan motorcycle Grand Prix, the Spanish F1 Grand Prix, a DTM Gran Prix, and several races. Also there are many Catalan Motorcycle manufacturers as Derbi, Bultaco, Gas Gas, OSSA

Motorcycling is one of the historical sports, with motorcycle road racing world champions as Àlex Crivillé, Sito Pons, Emilio Alzamora and Dani Pedrosa.


Adam Raga, World Champion

Motorcycle trials is also a sport practized by many Catalans, as the world champions Jordi Tarrés (6 times), Adam Raga (6 times), Toni Bou (4 times) and Laia Sanz (8 times), and many competitions are arganized around the country.

Rallies have several Catalan motorcycle champions as Nani Roma (1 Dakar Rally), Marc Coma (1 Rally Dakar and 3 times rallies cross country world champion) and Jordi Arcarons (4 times runner-up in the Dakar Rally). In car rallies, the Rally Catalunya is one of the races of the World Rally Championship since 1991. The first edition of Rally Catalunya was in 1957.

Cycling

In the same way as happened to the rest of Europe, the cycling was one of the first sports who took force and popularity in Catalonia, since the eighties of the 19th century. The first clyclist entity was the Club Velocipèdic of Barcelona (1884) and then was founded the Sport Ciclista Català. In 1893 was built the Bonanova velodrome with a measure of 400 meters, considered one of the best in Europe in those days. In 1895 was built the Reus velodrome and in 1896, the Lleida velodrome.

In 1897 was founded the Catalan Cycling Union, who managed the cycling in Catalonia.

In 1911 was organized the first edition of Volta a Catalunya, that is the third oldest cycling stage race in the world, only behind Tour de France (1903) and Giro d'Italia (1909).

Other important races in Catalonia are Setmana Catalana de Ciclisme (1963) and Escalada a Montjuïc (1965).

Field Hockey

In 1907, alumni of the Ateneu Calasanç in Terrassa began playing field hockey, a sport that already practiced the English people living in Catalonia, and founded the Lawn Hoquei Club Calassanç in 1911. Terrassa is where traditionally has been practised, with a lot of teams as Egara, Atlètic de Terrassa or CD Terrassa. In Barcelona it's played in Polo club.

Notes and references


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