‘They will not move us!’: Football fans protest the demolition of Vallecas stadium by creating human chain

Author: Leah Pattem / Photos: Alberto Astudillo García

A chain of around 400 people surrounded the Rayo Stadium this Saturday to defend its survival in the barrio of Vallecas, and against building a new, bigger stadium outside the neighbourhood. Fans told the press that the club doesn’t need “a stadium of 40,000 people” and that, if necessary, it’s possible to remodel it to adapt it to current times without changing its location.

Local politicians from the PSOE and Más Madrid plan to take a proposal to the next council meeting to demand that the stadium be granted a Grade 2 status, meaning the structure will be protected but for maintenance works only. But what the right-wing PP-run city council seem to be planning is to demolish the stadium and sell the land off to housing developers, which is what happened to the old Atletico stadium, Vicente Calderón in 2018.

Removing community facilities such as sports centres, commercial units and leisure facilities and replacing them with housing creates dead zones, and a dormitory neighbourhood of commuters expending hours of energy every day to get to and from work. The soul of the neighbourhood is lost, but perhaps this is exactly what the council wants to do.

The stadium is part of the identity of Vallecas, and of the anti-fascist movement that has come to define the neighbourhood. This was Rayo Vallecano fans’ first act against plans to move the stadium, but this is a very organised community that will do anything they can to stop the neighbourhood’s gentrification, especially when it comes to defending their stadium.

They will not move us!


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