Taking the Pig: Osasuna’s bizzare win bonus

For anyone still not religiously listening to the Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast, shame on you. It is without question one of the best sources of football news, entertainment and comment, and this week their Spanish correspondent Sid Lowe chipped in with a wonderful tale from Spain, which we can happily repeat now.

Only last week Frank Lampard gave renewed impetuous for all those over 30-year-olds to complain about the good old days, as the Chelsea skipper bitched about the lifestyles of today’s young modern footballers. Cleaning boots is now totally off the menu for our upstarts, as clubs prefer to shower them with dosh, wrapping them up in cotton wool coated in matching jewelry.

So in a football world where cash is king we bring you the brilliant story from Oviedo showing how, at least in Spain, bonuses of yesteryear can still make an appearance.

It is relatively common throughout the annals of Spanish football history to see teams incentivised by local supporters to win in return for a promise of bonuses. Rarely however do these bonus come with the monarchy’s head on them, rather food is prize for their success. For example, when Xabi Alonso turned out for Real Sociedad, his reward for getting on the scoresheet was a sea bass.

Back to Osasuna and the words of Professor Sid.

“It all started a couple of weeks ago when a local breeder decided that, desperate for the points against fellow strugglers Espanyol, the best way to help Osasuna drag themselves out of the relegation zone was to offer them a bonus. ‘Win,’ announced Pamplona piggy purveyor Luis Miguel Arraztoa, ‘and I’ll give you 12 suckling pigs.’ So Osasuna did win. There was, however, one teensy problem: like Oli, Osasuna had a couple of crushed Asians on their hands. Javad Nekounam, the man who scored the dramatic 92nd-minute winner against Espanyol, doesn’t dig on swine, what with being Iranian and all. And nor does his countryman Masoud Shojaei. ‘No worries,’ announced Arraztoa, trying to console the devastated duo, ‘we’ll chuck them a couple of chickens or something.'”

Last week the presentation of pigs was broadcast live on TV, the pigs having been painted red and blue in honour of the team’s colours, much to the amusement of all.

The story caught the imagination of the local media and Spanish news reports into the episode can be seen here and here.