Madrid : Almost a third of Spaniards are fans of Real Madrid, according to a fascinating sociological study.
The report comes from the Centro de Investigaciones Sociologicas (Centre for Sociological Investigations) in Madrid Thursday and was reproduced by the digital version of Marca.
The Centro carried out 2,473 interviews with Spaniards of all ages and regions, and of both sexes, between May 19-28.
Some 32.8 per cent of the people interviewed confessed to being Real Madrid fans, with Barcelona coming in second place with 25.7 per cent.
The third most popular club is Valencia, with 5.3 per cent. Then comes Athletic Bilbao (5.1 per cent) and Atletico Madrid (4.3 per cent).
In total 39 per cent of the people interviewed agreed with the statement that "the league can only be won by one of the teams with most money," and 40 per cent with the statement that "there is a lot of money in football and there exists corruption."
Some 34.2 per cent agreed that "the decisions of the referees always favour the same clubs and this changes the results." Only 28.4 per cent agreed with the statement that "in general the league is a clean competition, not manipulated."
In all 70.6 per cent believe that football receives "excessive attention" from the means of communication while 72.8 per cent of people questioned say that they watch the matches of their team on television, though only 21 per cent are prepared to pay (on the pay-per-view system) to do this.
Some 36.9 per cent go to the stadia to watch their teams "when possible."
With regard to the emotional impact of football on their lives, 32 per cent say that they are "sad" when their team loses an important game while 24.5 per cent confess to "getting annoyed" with their family members or friends when this happens.
Only 19.8 per cent of the interviewees confess to being "strong followers" of the Spanish national team, though 75.6 per cent would be "disappointed" if Spain failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championship finals.
Spain are currently second in qualifying group F, with 15 points from seven games.