Coming into Spain, I had an idea how important soccer was, but I really did not know what it meant for the people. You see, it is more than an obsession. It is part of their culture. People connect with others by watching and talking about soccer games. In Spain there is the big rival, Real Madrid C.F. and F.C. Barcelona. Spain is split in favor of these two teams. I never understood why this rivalry was so strong until I spoke with my host family.
This two teams are from different communities in Spain. Madrid being the capital of Spain and Barcelona being part of Catalonia. These two communities have very different political views. This has to do a lot with the independence movement in Barcelona (which I plan in expanding more on a separate blog). Therefore, these fans tend to be very serious about their preferred teams and cannot tolerate the rival fans. En “la liga”, there is three typical championships every year. There is la liga championship which is the championship of the league which includes 20 of the best first-division teams of Spain.
There is also la copa del rey which is a knockoff competition of 83 teams from Spain. The winner gets an entry to the UEFA Champions (European) League. Barcelona won this year. Lastly, is the UEFA Champions League which includes 32 of the most qualified teams in Europe. The 32 teams break into 8 groups of 4 and play each other in a double round-robin system. The 8 group winners and runners-up proceed to the knockout phase for the final championship. Winners of the champions League qualifies for the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA World Cup.
Yesterday, I went to a game here in Salamanca. I did not expect a good game since the club is only in 3rd division. However, the players were surprisingly really good. They were losing 2-0, but came back and scored 3 goals for the win. What had me most by surprise were the fans. There were a lot of fans in this 3rd division game.
Also, they all seemed hardcore fans with their face painted, jerseys on, and scarfs. They were all so united and very cheerful. There was a group of fans that filled up an entire section of seats. These fans stood up and sang cheers throughout the entire game. There was even fans playing drums. I have never seen a crowd so involved in the game. It didn’t matter that it was a regular 3rd division game, they were still loud and cheerful. There excitement is something I will never forget. Soccer really brings happiness to people. Below are pictures of the stadium and the fans.