Football in Barcelona: Mes que una ciutat…
Barcelona, the picturesque city on the Catalonian coast, is world famous for many reasons. Its incredible architecture has inspired countless paintings and other types of art; its beaches and resorts are popular destinations for tourists from all corners of the world, and cultural attractions such as Las Ramblas, the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia and the Parc Güell are some of the most iconic locations in Europe. However, Barcelona is arguably best known for another form of art… Football.
The Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe by capacity, seating some 90,000 plus fans, but Barcelona’s reputation as a club is undoubtedly much, much bigger. It’s estimated that there are around 450 million FC Barcelona fans around the world. With players such as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, and David Villa all gracing the hallowed turf of the Camp Nou in the last ten years, that’s hardly a surprise!
The history of football in Barcelona
On October 22nd 1899, Joan Gamper, a Swiss football pioneer put out an advert outlining his intentions to create a football club in Barcelona. The advert attracted a good response, and a football club was formed fairly quickly. Playing in red and blue stripes, the same as Gamper’s hometown team FC Basel, the team won their first ever match against Hispania in 1900.
The team were initially successful, but a period of difficulty ensued and Gamper took over as club president to ensure the club stayed financially stable. FC Barcelona’s first stadium was the Camp de la Indústria, holding between six and eight thousand fans.
Englishman Jack Greenwell was appointed as Barcelona’s first permanent manager in 1917, and held the role for six years. During his term as manager, Barcelona moved to the Les Cortes Stadium, which held 22,000 spectators and would exist until the Second World War.
The hostilities of the Spanish Civil War grounded progress for Barcelona, with political affairs preventing any real progress in Spanish football generally. However, football was still being played and Barcelona enjoyed relative success towards the end of the Civil War and in its immediate aftermath.
Between the 60s and 2000s, Barcelona began to transform into the club we know today
The Camp Nou opened in 1957, and Barcelona were now playing in front of nearly 100,000 fans. However, Real Madrid remained the dominating force in La Liga until the mid-1970s, when the arrival of Johan Cruyff and their first elected President Josep Lluís Núñez transformed the club’s fortunes.
Núñez invested heavily in the La Masia Academy, which has produced countless world-class talents over the years. The same year (1979), Barcelona won its first European Cup. Between the late 80s and the modern day, Barcelona’s team has been littered with talent, and during Pep Guardiola’s reign as manager, Barcelona won an incredible 14 trophies in four years. However, in the present day, Barcelona are in a period of transition, suffering on and off the pitch and very much giving the impression that the club are in serious turmoil.
But you don’t have to be watching Barça live at the Camp Nou to enjoy football in Barcelona
As a city, Barcelona is understandably football mad. This is unsurprising given the stature of FC Barcelona as a club, but the Barceloneses can enjoy football in more than one way in their city – whether that’s playing, watching, or even eating at the same time!
With such a dominating football culture in the city, combined with miles of luxurious beaches, an incredible gastro scene, and its immense cultural heritage, Barcelona is the perfect place to combine sport and leisure.
CeleBreak is the brainchild of two brothers Daniel and Sebastian Foth, and their cousin Gabriel Fustero Fernández. A family business, CeleBreak have revolutionised the way that anybody – local or tourist – can find and play in a local 7-a-side football match in some of the most exciting destinations in Europe.
Frustrated that organising a simple kickabout with friends was proving too much of a hassle, Daniel, Sebastian, and Gabriel created CeleBreak to take the stress out of playing football for fun. In six European cities, one of which being the hilly, hot landscape of Barcelona, you only need to download the CeleBreak app to get playing.
From the coastal Agapito Fernández pitch, only moments from Catalonia’s golden coastline, to the mountainous, cooler La Satalia pitch, there is plenty of choice. All of CeleBreak’s games are properly organised by the company, meaning that teams are fair, and games remain safe, respectful, competitive and fun. CeleBreak encourage everybody to come and have a kick-about with them, regardless of previous playing experience or footballing ability.
Football is something to enjoy, and CeleBreak make that possible in Barcelona.
Similarly, football with CeleBreak is inclusive, and the company also put on women’s games as well as men’s games. The female footballing community is Barcelona is large, and FC Barcelona themselves founded their own women’s team in 1998. FC Barcelona Femení are one of Spain’s leading women’s football teams, and also have a ‘B’ side to ensure that as many leading female footballers as possible have a chance to play professionally in the city.
Thanks to CeleBreak, however, you don’t need to be a professional female footballer to find good quality 7-a-side football matches to play football in Barcelona. As we’ve said, both women and men’s football are catered for, so don’t hesitate to come along!
Where else can you enjoy football in Barcelona?
Thanks to Barcelona’s location within Spain, beach football is a viable option if you fancy a more informal, relaxed game of football. Beach volleyball, swimming, water polo, beach running, and hiking in Barcelona’s hills are all other great ways to remain active whilst you’re on the Catalan coastline.
Similarly, if you fancy the football atmosphere but don’t necessarily feel like playing, then thankfully Barcelona has a lot to offer in terms of sports bars and restaurants showing football from all over the world.
Barcelona has a number of traditional Irish pubs for the tourist contingent mainly, but of course local residents are welcome too. For those looking for a slightly more authentic Catalonian sports bar experience, head for Belushi’s Sport Bar on La Rambla, or L’Ovella Negra Marina on the Carrer de Zamora. Both establishments offer a selection of traditional footie food, as well as typical Spanish dishes along with live, big screen football.