Article in brief: Exploring the sensation of being a fan in a city known for it’s sporting culture.
It’s always exciting to experience life as a citizen in a new city and for the second time in my life, I am privileged to relive this experience in Barcelona. Settling in is never easy; we tend to forget the dreadful hours we exhaust in mundane tasks like setting up bank accounts, paying your bills or ordering take out. These tasks are even a bigger hurdle in Barcelona, a place that has raised my comprehension of what an unhurried life could be like.
There is more nonchalance than oxygen in the air here. Lunches are 3 hours long, 7pm is considered late afternoon and 1 am is considered late evening. If Barcelona was not located in Europe, you will not be lynched for thinking otherwise. In this “tranquilo” life, only one agenda won’t be negotiated, and that is game kick-off time for Football Club De Barcelona.
It was always a personal wish of mine to reside in a city that is known for it’s sporting galore and this probably was subconsciously driving my decision to move to Europe.
Sporting clubs contribute greatly to the character of a city, continuously revitalizing the culture of the city. I knew that for me to understand the inner dynamics of this city, the majority of my indulgence was going to take place in the stadium and that’s why I am a regular at the stadium. I am not a Barcelona fan, but I am a football fan.
Being at a stadium has a strong magnetic appeal; people cross oceans just to be here. But here’s the difference, I often flew to watch games and events, but being a regular, its a completely different ball game. It almost feels like a responsibility, you are the 12th player that needs to be present. Your seat and your view is not what’s important, what’s important is to be present in the stadium and perform your part as a supporter. No matter the how cold the weather is or whether you are sacrificing a good night’s sleep, being a supporter of Barcelona is a commitment.
The fascinating part of the club is that no matter what sport their club is participating in, the majority of the 1.6 million inhabitants of Barcelona of the city blindly supports the club. The club is so embodied in the folklore of the Catalonian identity, you question who supersedes whom.
On the 14th second of the 17th minute of every game, the fans at the stadium burst out singing, calling for their independence, recognizing the fall of Catalan independence on 1714. Again, even though I haven’t yet discovered my own sympathy towards the Catalan cause, I am mesmerized when witnessing this devotion. I become overwhelmed in the togetherness of the people. The difference is that the rest of the world comes to Barcelona to watch the game, but the people who are from here, they are watching a reflection of their distinctiveness. This is why, as long as Barcelona exists, so will the club. It’s not about the president of the club or its financial capabilities, it’s about the 90,000 people present at the stadium that keep feeding the Catalan culture with their Catalan identity.
Bespoke of this devotion is the person who occupies the seat next to me. Over the age of at least 70, he has been occupying his seat longer than I have been living in this world. While we are swamped with fans from all over the world, taking selfies and sending photos to their friends, he celebrates a goal by allowing himself to bite of his wrapped, prepared sandwich from home. Being there is not leisure. Being there is a duty.