Sid Lowe in Madrid
Sid Lowe is a London-born sports journalist, currently based in Madrid, who spends a lot of time in Barcelona hotel rooms. When not writing match reports and a weekly column for The Guardian, he works as a commentator and panelist for both American and Spanish television and has acted as a translator for the likes of David Beckham and Michael Owen. Since initially writing from England whilst completing his Masters in Spanish Political History, he has rapidly become Britain’s leading authority on Spanish football. He made a permanent move to Spain over five years ago.
Many people will envy you. What is the best thing about your work?
The best thing is that I get paid to watch football whilst living in Spain. That is brilliant! I also get to see a side of football that many people don’t. For example, what the game is really like behind the scenes, and especially what footballers are really like, beyond what people see in the media.
And what are footballers really like?
Mostly they are not massively interesting, but I don’t really blame them because we don't tend to ask them the most interesting questions. It’s rare that you get to talk to a footballer beyond the normal clichés. I did something with Oleguer (the FC Barcelona defender) where I asked him about his much publicised views on politics. He spoke about his Catalanism, his views on the laws in this country and some of his political worries, which, I think, was interesting for him and it certainly was for me.
And the worst thing about your job?
Time. My girlfriend would tell you that I never have a weekend, and therefore neither does she. Also, when I come to cities like Barcelona to watch a game, I fly in, go to the hotel, then straight to the game, and then back to Madrid. I don’t get to see cities as much as I’d like.
Do you support the much vaunted claim that the Spanish league is the best in the world?
No. At the moment I think it’s a big myth. The equality of the top four teams is based on mediocrity. However, in terms of quality, style and class Spain is better than England.
Is there a difference between fans in Spain and England?
Every English fan who has come out here to see a big game at the Camp Nou or the Bernabéu has been disappointed. Other teams are okay, but at Madrid and Barcelona, the atmosphere is dull. In England the fans try to help the team play well, but in Spain the fans expect the team to help them support well.
Are players treated differently in Spain and England?
In England you have the tabloid interest, in Spain most players live without that kind of pressure. In England, if they step out of line off the pitch it’ll be in the tabloids. If you do that here you won’t be. The things Ronaldo has done over the past five years, if he’d been in England, the tabloids would have had a field day.
Do you see a difference between Barcelona and Madrid, as cities?
Madrid is a far more Spanish city. Barcelona is much more cosmopolitan and European. I think Barcelona is quite self-conscious and it’s interesting that it’s known as being liberal, yet the richest people in Spain generally live here. Barcelona appears to be more open, more vibrant, but I get the feeling that Madrid is perhaps more genuine.