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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Rafael Nadal Catches Shit For Supporting Rival Soccer Clubs

Illustration for article titled Rafael Nadal Catches Shit For Supporting Rival Soccer Clubs
Photo: Catherine Ivill (Getty)

Rafael Nadal is roughly midway through his clay-court rampage, having lengthened his consecutive set streak to a record 46, and just had some time off between tournaments in Barcelona and Madrid. He spent some of that precious downtime watching soccer, which he loves deeply.


Rafa is a lifelong supporter of Real Madrid, and he has also unabashedly expressed admiration for their rival club Barça, which employed his uncle Miguel Àngel Nadal in the ‘90s. Last Thursday, at a Europa League match between Arsenal and Atletico Madrid—yet another Real rival—Nadal was seen with (gasp) a red Atleti shirt wrapped around his neck. This captured the attention of people and tabloids hungry for some good-natured beef about who’s really a fan of who, hmm?

Nadal, who in fairness is probably asked about topics this stupid with great regularity, sounded a bit exasperated in his remarks today in Madrid. From an AP report:

“Well, there is a problem with today’s society, that to be a true supporter of one team, it seems that you have to be anti another team,” Nadal said Monday. “I just support Real Madrid. I have a lot of friends that are from Atletico. They are playing in a competition in Europe against an English team. I just went there to support Atletico Madrid. They invited me. I just wanted to enjoy the day, to see a great football match.”

Nadal was captured on camera with the jersey around his neck during the team’s 1-0 win at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Thursday, a result that allowed Atletico to reach the final of Europe’s second-tiered club competition.

“The (club’s) president gave me a T-shirt as a gift,” Nadal said. “At night it was a little bit chilly, a little bit cold, and I just used it as a scarf. That’s all. But it’s always the same stuff. Maybe there’s too much hypocrisy, or I would say you people in the media have to write too many things, so you have to explore some stupid things.”

There you have it: Rafa was cold, and subscribes to the Sports In General theory of fandom.