Unlike the rest of the world, America is nowhere near as crazy about soccer, or fútbol, as is the most of the rest of the world. Maybe you've heard of the movie/documentary about the Green Street Hooligans? Hooliganism is quite common all throughout Europe, and the arrival of the World Cup every 4 years certainly doesn't alleviate matters.
If you know anything about soccer, then you'll that countries such as Spain, Brazil, Argentina, France, and the Netherlands have traditionally been very good at soccer, and thus produced some of the most die-hard fans. I'm from Philadelphia, where we have a reputation for being extreme sports fans, but even that doesn't compare to European soccer fans. Being here in Spain has been very eye-opening for me regarding this global soccer culture that America is really not a part of. Back in the States, many people don't care about the World Cup, but here it's the only subject worth talking about this summer.
Now, it's fairly common knowledge that Spain loves it's soccer, but Barcelona, and greater Catalonia, are a bit different. Catalonia, of which Barcelona is the capital, is a region of Spain, a region that wants to be independent from Spain, a region that wants to be a country. When asked about FCB (Fútbol Club Barcelona) players playing on the national Spanish team, a native to Barcelona called them traitors to Barcelona and to Catalonia, because to Catalanas, Spain is a different country.
Being in Spain, even if it is Catalonia, there's still a lot of energy about soccer, but not as much as there is in Madrid. Here, there are just as many fans of other countries; our group from the USA went to a sports bar to watch the first match against Ghana, and that bar was completely packed with other Americans that night cheering their team on. Many of us wouldn't have followed the World Cup back home, but here in Spain it's expected of everyone, regardless of who they support.
Back home in the States, people are missing out on the incredible energy in this global soccer culture, just watch videos of when goals are scored in the World Cup to see how much energy the crowd has. I'm very happy to be here to experience this furor, even if it is a bit toned down here in Catalonia.
Check back soon for a post about everyone's favorite topic: food!