Madrid, Spain: Thousands of Atletico Madrid fans disobeyed the authorities on Saturday night, marching to the streets of Madrid to celebrate their team’s 11th league title after defeating Real Valladolid.
Atleti supporters went to the Neptune fountain in the heart of Madrid as soon as the full-time whistle rang in Valladolid, confirming a 2-1 victory and breaching Covid-19 rules prohibiting masks and social separation.
“I was confident Atletico would win. It was like a final and being against Valladolid, I knew we were going to win,” Federico Gonzalez, 46, and among the crowds, told AFP.
A significant police presence encircled the fountain, which was lit up in Atletico’s red and white colors. Several vans were also deployed to prevent anyone from reaching the fountain.
As darkness fell, fans waved flags and scarves while others lit flares, continuing the festivities late into the night following Atletico’s second La Liga triumph in seven years.
“It is a joy. From the beginning of the game I was overcome with nerves because Atleti plays each game in its own way and you just never know”, said Carlota Maestro, 20, who came to the city center with three friends.
The rojiblancos fans danced, leapt, and hugged each other amid chants of “Atleti, Atleti” and “Campeones.” Cars and motorcycles whizzed by, some with red and white flags popping out the windows, blaring their horns.
Because of the Covid-19 outbreak, Atletico fans have been unable to attend matches this season, and their celebrations have violated authorities’ instructions.
Fans disobeyed social distance rules, and many did not wear masks.
“Please, I ask the Atletico fans not to go to Neptune,” wrote the mayor of Madrid, Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida, himself an Atletico supporter, on Twitter. “I am the first to understand the desire to celebrate but this is not the time.”
“It is a strange celebration because we have not been able to do it like normal, on the field, surrounded by other fans,” said Pablo Diaz, a 22-year-old fan. “We celebrate it but with a little fear, being careful, and wearing a mask.”
Hundreds of other fans joined the squad to Valladolid, where they sat in the car park outside the stadium, watching the game on their phones.
Atletico’s players ran out of the stadium after the game to celebrate with fans they hadn’t seen all season.
COVER IMAGE COURTESY OF ABS-CBN NEWS