Last January, I had the pleasure of attending the Barca Soccer Match AICAP activity. I went to it with my roommates and friends. Everyone was so excited since FC Barcelona is known as being one of the best soccer teams in the world. Many of us had never been to a real-life game before. It was a home game at Camp Nou, against the CD Leganes Team from Madrid. This was the first time I had ever attended a real soccer game. I went to one game at my University, but I personally never attended a professional match.
As a child, I played on my school’s soccer team. I mostly played defense since I was not much of a runner. I would get boosts of energy at random times and took many power kicks that flew down the left side lines. Unfortunately, my soccer career ended when I realized I liked to pick up and hold balls, after one game when I picked up the soccer ball, but I wasn’t the goalie. I soon switched to Basketball which allowed me to throw and shoot instead of kick. I also thrived because the court wasn’t as big as a soccer field and due to the fact that I was pretty tall. However, even with the switch to basketball, I never lost the love of soccer. It was great getting the chance to experience an FC Barcelona game that wasn’t on the Television. Additionally, it was very cool getting to embrace the Spanish culture and watching it from their point of view. I didn’t know too much about FC Barcelona so I decided to do some research on them.
FC Barcelona, also known as Football Club Barcelona, was founded in 1899 by a group of Swiss, English, and Spanish footballers led by Joan Gamper. The team was created due to increasing popularity of football and other British sports all over Europe. Gamper was the driving force behind the team in its first 25 years of existence. He went far beyond the role of being a player, director and president. Up until 1910, FC Barcelona played amateur football in different regional matches. In that same year, FC Barcelona participated in their first of many European competitions, and has gained over fourteen UEFA trophies and a sextuple. In the year 1928, Barcelona co-founded La Liga, the top-tier in Spanish football, as well as of other clubs. As of 2017, Barcelona has never been relegated from La Liga. This record is shared with Athletic Bilbao and arch-rival Real Madrid.
Additionally, there have been some political issues within the club. They are due to the fact that the team was created by both Spanish and Catalan people. Catalan values have always been incorporated in the club. After Spain’s transition to autocracy, there were some hostile issues with the main government of Madrid and Catalonia. The stadium for FC Barcelona became one of only a few places that people could express their opinions about the ban of the Catalan language. FC Barcelona has always been behind Catalonia an them becoming an independent state.
One thing I noticed at the game was the sense of pride everyone had for the team. People went crazy when their favorite players came out to play. I interviewed Emily Darpino, who has never been to soccer game or even played soccer before, about this and she mentioned, “I remember when Messi went in. Just before it happened it was silent and when they announced him, and he ran around, the crowd went wild. It was insanity.” Lionel Messi, if your not farmiliar with him, is a forward on the FC Barcelona team. He wears the number 10 on his jersey and is viewed as one of the best players in the world. He is seen as being technically perfect, and brings together unselfishness, pace, composure and goals to make him number one on the field and in our hearts. Like Darpino said, fans will go crazy for him and will just show up to a game to get a glimpse of him whether he plays or not. Even though, he is not the only player on the team, he is still a huge reason for the Barca pride.
Now this sort of pride, whether it be for the sport or a player, can happen at any professional game anywhere but being in a different country really made it stick out. Additionally, Lauren Zwall, another attendee who has played soccer most of her life, recounted on the pride. She stated, “The crowd started their own cheers. Regardless if you’re a huge fan or not, everyone there was engaged.
Fashion merchandise also adds to the sense of pride in any soccer game. Everywhere you go whether you’re at the stadium itself, in front of it, or event just walking on any street at any time of day, you can find FC Barcelona merchandise.
A majority of the merchandise is sold at ridiculously high prices. Lauren Zwall, also mentioned, “The Merchandise is biased. You can go to so many stands and buy the same things for all different prices”.FC Barcelona makes tons of money off of their brand. In fact, According to an article published in Forbes Magazine, merchandise revenue and sponsorships make up 31.7% of the Clubs revenue. As long as they have the fans, people will keep buying FC Barcelona memorabilia. “I bought a scarf to blend in. I didn’t feel like a foreigner when I was wearing it since everyone had one”, said Darpino.
Both the people I interviewed would go back and see another game. They both liked the fans and were very engaged with the whole event. “It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I have already done so much,” said Darpino. Having the ability to be there and witness it all was a dream to them. Zwall also mentioned, “It was less of a soccer match, and more of a spectacle.” We all agreed it was all so cereal and they will cherish that memory forever.