Passion and Pride Power Barcelona's Camp Nou

By: Tom Malone - Fall 2010

Barcelona, Spain - Four energetic friends and I packed into the subway car beneath the bustling Barcelona night scene around 9 p.m. Thousands of Spaniards crowded through the underground tunnels as we exited the train in search of one common shrine: Camp Nou. I ignored the flurry of hands slyly grabbing at my pockets as I gripped all my worldly possessions (wallet and game ticket) in my hand.

We rose up the stairs into a sea of people. We didn’t know where the massive stadium was located. We just had to follow the sound. The FC Barcelona vs. Sevilla soccer game didn’t start for over an hour, but the fans were riled up and showing their Barca pride.

A plainly dressed man eyeballed me and yelled in Spanish, “What team are you for?” “Barcelona,” I responded anxiously, hoping that was the answer he was looking for. His face lit up with excitement and allowed us to continue down the sidewalk.

After mingling with the local bar crowd, we entered the stadium gate. The ticket-acquiring process (running barefoot through a mall to claim five tickets in the same section) paid off. We climbed higher and higher, eventually reaching our seats in the top row of the stadium. A backwards somersault would have led to a five-story freefall.

We saw everything from a clear bird’s-eye view. Fans cheered. Flags waved. Sevilla fans cowered as Barcelona enthusiasts heckled. This was the real deal. The red-and-blue jerseys strolled onto the field in preparation for the match.

FIFA Player of the Year Lionel Messi scored twice. The stands erupted with a unified “Messi” chant that must have been rehearsed. David Villa tacked on another two goals, as did Andres Iniesta. The stand shook with soccer-crazed passion. Sevilla looked helpless as Barca fans bellowed with a confident swagger.

We left the stadium as the clock ran out of time. Jumping back onto the subway car, we reveled in the realization of the pandemonium that is Spanish futbol.