sports world

La Liga, Vuelta cycling race get under way in Spain with security in spotlight

Thousands of police officers and security personnel will be mobilised in and around Spanish stadiums.

While Spain mourns following the terror attacks in Catalonia, security will be in the spotlight as two global sporting events get under way this weekend in La Liga and the Vuelta cycling race.

After a three-month summer break, La Liga returns with 10 matches over the weekend, including three on Saturday, among them Atletico Madrid’s trip to newly-promoted Catalan outfit Girona.

Thousands of police officers and security personnel will be mobilised in and around Spanish stadiums.

The Vuelta, one of cycling’s three Grand Tours, begins in the French city of Nimes on Saturday but the three-week race enters Spain on Tuesday with a stage finishing in Tarragona. Thousands of spectators will line the route.

Tarragona is only 20 kilometres along the Mediterranean coast from Cambrils, where a car rammed into pedestrians, injuring six civilians and a police officer early on Friday morning. One of the civilians later died.

That incident came just hours after the attack in Barcelona, when a white van sped down the popular Las Ramblas avenue, packed full of tourists on Thursday afternoon, knocking people down and killing 13.

Authorities in Spain – a country obsessed with football – have decided to go ahead with sporting events despite security fears.

The LFP, the body that runs La Liga, confirmed that top-flight matches, including Barcelona’s home meeting with Betis at the Camp Nou on Sunday, would go ahead.

A minute’s silence will be held before kick-offs around the country while Barcelona players will sport black armbands and players will wear shirts with ‘Barcelona’ replacing individual names on the back.

Maximum measures

“LaLiga...hopes that supporters will be able to enjoy matches normally on the opening matchday,” the league said in a mail sent to AFP.

Barcelona said that postponing Sunday’s game, due to kick off at 8:15pm (1815 GMT), had not been considered.

The club were waiting for instructions from authorities about any additional security measures that may be required at the Camp Nou, the biggest football ground in Europe with a capacity of 99,354.

“Given the increase in situations of danger, terrorism, the club have already taken measures to reinforce security,” said a club spokesperson.

“The rule is to apply the maximum possible measures, and in extraordinary situations like this, apply them much more strictly.”

In Nimes the same level of vigilance was being used by organisers of the Vuelta. They said on Friday that they were working with authorities to assure the protection of fans and of the event itself.

The first two stages on Saturday and Sunday take place in southern France before Monday’s third stage in the Pyrenees concludes in Andorra.

“Extraordinary measures” have been taken by the government of Andorra, with more agents mobilised and border controls reinforced in the tiny principality that borders France and Spain.

The Vuelta, like most cycling races, is by its very nature eminently complex in terms of security with potentially millions of spectators lining roads and large numbers of people gathering in towns where stages begin or end.

For riders, the scenes from Barcelona brought back memories of a similar attack in Nice which killed 86 people during last year’s Tour de France, casting a shadow over that race.

“Just horrific scenes reminiscent of what happened in Nice during the Tour last year. Of course our thoughts and best wishes are with all those affected in this attack,” said Britain’s Tour de France champion Chris Froome.

However, Froome and the rest of the peloton were refusing to let terrorism fears affect their build-up to the Vuelta.

“It’s something you can spend a lot of time thinking about but it’s something that’s completely outside of your control, you just hope that you wouldn’t see anything like that personally,” Froome added.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.