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FC Barcelona worldwide: The Team, the fans & the Camp Nou

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Why are we fans of the Blaugrana? Like fish and chips is to the English and coma inducing sweet tea is to the Indians, each club has a characteristic trait(s) or a personality that reaches out and connects to a fan. So that I’m perfectly clear, I am not talking about ‘fair weather’ fans but the diehard Culé, meaning: us.

FC Barcelona Anthem (english subtitles)

I believe all great clubs have a human feel to it, almost like its alive. I choose to live in denial and be naive enough to believe that I matter to this club just as much as it matters to me. This fact is strengthened every morning when checking the latest on F.C Barcelona (which starts with Barca Blaugranes and moves on to the official site) goes hand in hand with the aforementioned sweet tea (I’m a cup away from becoming a diabetic).

The only way I can justify waking up at 4:00 am in the morning with the sudden urge to write, while listening to ‘Hey You’ by Pink Floyd, is if I corroborated certain facts about being a fan of this club by quoting other fans (go figure). It’s the only way I could think of to try and bring out the essence of what it means to be a "Culé".

First things first, Culé literally means ‘arse’. The spectators on the top row would sit with their butts over the stands and I’m sure you can imagine what the view was like. Nowadays the word is synonymous with fans of FC Barcelona. Over the years, Cules have attained a ‘group personality’ of sorts. A unique and distinct behavior that is restricted to them.

Barcablaugranes author, and student at the renowned and prestigious Columbia Journalism School, Lorenzo Franceschi Bicchierai, confirmed what I suspected and this is what he had to offer:

"A very important trait of the typical Catalan fan is pessimism. During these years it’s something that has waned but Culés are actually famous for always expecting the worst. Obviously this cascade of trophies has changed that a little bit and you can always find some cocky fans as well."

It was always one of the aspects of the club and its fans that appealed to me. Being naturally pessimistic, I never expect the team to win even the easiest of games. I’ve tried being the ‘cocky’ fan but I’ll admit it doesn’t suit me. Also there is a certain sense of satisfaction to be had by saving the trash talk till after the team has won, especially when the game was against Real Madrid.

Along with the pessimism, Culés aren’t known to make a lot of noise. Lorenzo explains it well: "Barca fans are actually pretty quiet if compared with other fans. For example, Italian fans are usually much more noisy and passionate during games. The fact is that Camp Nou has a lot of old season ticket holders, and elderly people don’t like to chant slogans and cheer too much, they are there to enjoy the game."

So if we were all stereotypical Culés, that would mean we would have to be pessimistic and quiet. However, it helps that Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe and extremely intimidating for visiting teams. Like the fans, the stadium has its quirks too but no Culé could ever underestimate the significance of Camp Nou. It is the heart and soul of the club and is a landmark in the city. Longest serving Culé, our editor-in-chief, Adi-Oula Sebastian, and this is what he had to say about Camp Nou: "I’ve been to the Camp Nou a couple of times and it’s one of the most beautiful stadiums in Europe; It’s a special place with one of the most fascinating histories. During the Franco era it was one of the few, perhaps the only, places where Catalans were allowed to speak their language. And everyone who has been to Catalunya can attest to that – they do love their language!"

In the end every one of us has a reason for following a particular club, for Senior Editor, Arron Duckling, "it was all about the camaraderie. The first Barcelona game I watched was back in 2006, the first leg of the Champions League tie with Chelsea. Basically, I had grown up used to players being "ultra-professional", only interacting with each other out of necessity, and to see these guys having fun, and playing the way they did reminded me of the lower leagues, where players get along well. For me Barcelona is like the lower league team, who has made it into the big time. There is that humility that endears them to the public, and it also helped that supporting Barcelona annoyed my Chelsea supporting friends."

Bostjan Cernensek, yet another Senior Editor of this site, had a personal reason to support the Blaugrana since his grandfather was also a Culé:

"He is a big supporter of the team and no matter how busy we were we always found some time to talk about the team. We still do. I started watching Barca on a semi-regular basis before the turn of the millennium, roughly in 1998. Despite the lack of coverage (back then in Slovenia) my passion for the team kept growing and here we are now."

One of the reasons that the club is continuing to attract so many fans (besides the trophies) is what the club has achieved off the pitch over the years. Again Bostjan says it best "Not many teams can be as proud of their off-the-pitch achievements as Barca can" (referring to the years of oppression that the club and Catalans suffered at the hands of dictatorial regimes).

Another trait of the club that Bostjan, Arron, Sebastian and pretty much any Culé out there likes is the fact that Barca is not a collection of players brought together using piles of cash. "They have grown up together. They are not just a team, they are a family" are the words Bostjan used to describe the Catalan side.

Although I started following the Blaugrana since Ronaldinho joined (like Slovenia, the coverage of La Liga in India was nonexistent back then), there was one attribute that made me a believer which was that Barca were historically "only" the second-best team in Spain (after Real Madrid), and I loved watching the underdogs win. Over the years, after doing my homework on the club, I realize that I have lost track of the number of reasons to love this club. It’s a combination of things really, but similar to what Arron said, I took pride in the fact that I would be the only one supporting Barca among a large group of friends who are largely fans of English teams.

Jose Avila, Barca Blaugranes United States Senior Editor, admitted that the significance of Ronaldinho’s contribution cannot be undermined: "Ronaldinho, he gave Barcelona that confidence that they were a good team and could defeat anyone. He played a big part in making Barcelona what it is today, a winning team. In 2006 he was the best, and that whole squad just gave way to the current evolution but, Ronaldinho embodied that champion’s spirit that carries through today. If it wasn't for him they wouldn't have made the final nor have evolved into such a popular team. Ronadinho in 06 is comparable to the marvel Messi is today. There was no one like him, he was untouchable, and he played for the most untouchable squad. Thanks to him and the squad of 06 and the triumph over Arsenal in Paris we have CL trophies #3 and #4."

This isn’t supposed to be just an article but a tribute to all of you, here at BB and Culés in general. This club wouldn’t be where it is without the fans and that symbolic stadium. I would really like to read your reason for being a fan of the club so please feel free to do so via comment.

FC Barcelona - Champions league Cup 2010-2011 Celebration in the Camp Nou

Visca el Barca!

Inder Methil

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