Atletico Madrid’s players will not give LaLiga champions Real Madrid a guard of honor ahead of Sunday’s derby, the club has said, calling the idea « an attempt at ridicule » and « an exaggerated, artificial controversy. »
Madrid will visit Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium having already wrapped up the LaLiga title with four games to spare with a 4-0 win over Espanyol on Saturday.
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Trophy winners in Spain have customarily been applauded onto the pitch by their next opponents as a mark of respect, but the tradition has become contentious in recent years and speculation had grown as to whether Atletico would give rivals Madrid a guard of honor before such a high -profile fixture.
« Some people want to turn what began as a gesture of recognition for the champions into a public toll that their rivals must pay, imbued with the scent of humiliation, » Atletico said in a statement on Monday.
« Atletico Madrid will under no circumstances collaborate in this attempt at ridicule in which the true values of sport are completely forgotten and tension and confrontation between fans are incited. »
The club pointed to precedents from their own recent title-winning seasons — in 2014 and 2021 — to justify their stance.
« On some occasions there was some kind of tribute from the opposing team to our champions and on others there was not, but such expectation or exaggerated, artificial controversy as we’ve seen in recent weeks was never generated, » the club said.
« Atleti are the last league champions. Does anyone remember any controversy about whether we should receive a guard of honor from our first opponents after winning the title? No, because there was no debate. »
The club added: « In the first match of this season, Celta Vigo decided not to give a guard of honor and it was the right decision, because they are gestures that should be done to be applauded by the home crowd… We received the guard of honor in the first game we played at home, from Elche. Naturally, gratefully and, obviously, without any demands. »
Atletico are battling for a place in the LaLiga top four to secure qualification for next season’s Champions League. They are fourth, three points ahead of Real Betis in fifth, ahead of Sunday’s Madrid derby.
Atletico’s players had previously voiced their doubts about giving their derby opponents a guard of honour.
« We congratulate Madrid for the title, » defender Jose Gimenez said on Saturday. « They deserve it. But we respect our fans a lot. »