PB Beirut, when blaugrana values arrive in the Middle East
REPORTS 30 May 2019 - Supporters' Clubs World Confederation
Despite the vast distance between Barcelona and Beirut, the dreams of six Lebanese fans came true six years ago with the creation of Lebanon’s first blaugrana supporters’ club
Six years ago, a group of young men from Beirut, Lebanon, saw one of their greatest dreams made reality: the official representation of the Club they had always adored in their country.
Thanks to their enthusiasm, passion and perseverance, the Penya Barcelonista Beirut was born in 2012 under the name of “FC Barcelona Supporters’ in Lebanon.” Two years later, in 2014, after a trip to Barcelona by its president Firas Arab, the entity was officialised and became the first official supporters’ club in Lebanon.
A dream come true
The Penya Barcelonista de Beirut now boasts 145 members. The entity also has a private Facebook group with over 6,000 followers and is becoming increasingly visible in a country that pays close attention to blaugrana success.
According to its president, Firas Árab, the supporters’ club movement in Beirut has grown extensively due to the entity’s dynamism, which has resulted in it being one of the most active supporters’ clubs in the zone: “We’ve welcomed names such as Carles Puyol and Ronaldinho, as well as representatives from the Fundació Barça, and have also been present at important events such as El Clásico between the Barça Legends and the Real Madrid Legends, which took place at the Camille Chamoun Sports City stadium in Beirut.”
Transmitting the values of FC Barcelona in the Middle East
The Penya de Beirut represents and shares close ties with the values of FC Barcelona: “to respect others, behave with dignity, help those in need and enjoy football all form part of our mission; it is what the Club promotes and what we hope to transmit to young Lebanese fans, as these values are especially important in conflict areas such as the Middle East,” says Árab.
This commitment has led the supporters’ club to organise numerous acts of solidarity, such as donations to the local Children's Cancer Centre, the contribution of clothing and gifts to vulnerable children, football camps and minigames. The entity has even organised iftars, the late-night meals that end the day’s fasting during the month of Ramadan, for orphans and people in need.
Football: the backbone of the entity
As well as these social activities, the supporters’ club also promotes many other initiatives throughout the year both in Beirut and the rest of the country: from trips and gatherings to a range of other activities. One of the main aims is to promote football and sport to the Lebanese people by organising and participating in local tournaments.
One of the most fondly remembered events, due to its sheer magnitude, was the gathering that took place at the city’s indoor football stadium on December 3rd, 2016, when two giant screens were erected to mark the Clásico against Barça’s notorious rival at Camp Nou. The event was attended by over 1,500 people, making it the largest gathering in Lebanon to date. “The atmosphere was crazy, and it was all very well organised; so much so that the event was covered by local television stations, as well as a few international ones such as beIN Sports,” says the supporters’ club president.
One thing that remains clear is that the members of PB Beirut hold the blaugrana colours in their hearts while waving their supporters club flag: “We will carry on telling everyone that, as long as FC Barcelona is more than a Club, then the Penya Beirut will also be more than a supporters’ club.”