A year without stepping in Camp Nou: tough times for the Espai d’Animació

Víctor Salgado

REPORTS 18 Mar 2021 - Supporters' Clubs World Confederation

The members are troubled for being unable to support the team in person, and like all other fans are looking forward to the moment when stadiums open again

On Saturday 7 March 2020, Barça beat Real Sociedad 1-0 before more than 77,000 spectators at Camp Nou. More than a year has passed and such images haven’t been seen since. With the state of alarm and confinement, all activities were halted, and when sport did resume it was played in empty stadiums. This situation still holds today.

One of the groups that attended that game, as they always unconditionally do, is the Penya Almogàvers (Federació Barcelonès Oest) which is part of the club’s youth section, known as Espai d’Animació. Of the many supporters’ clubs and fan groups who are unable to attend games, theirs is one of the most affected: “For us that was a game like any other in terms of preparation and supporting for 90 minutes, but the atmosphere was a bit subdued because people were already talking about a stop to large-scale events and crowding. But nobody imagined that it would still be going on a year later.”

From a distance

Frustration and concern are two of the words the Penya Almogàvers most uses to describe their mood over these months. “It is infuriating not to be able to be there for the big matches” they say. “Especially when there have been painful defeats when, had the terraces been full, things would surely have ended differently.” And on a personal level “our members live football and Barça in such a passionate, shared way, it is a form of escaping from our daily lives. Watching games on television in isolation is meaningless.”

Also, the transversal and geographically disperse nature of the groups within the Espai d’Animació (Nostra Ensenya, Supporters Barça and Front 532, as well as Almogàvers) is a further obstacle for organising meetings, even in small groups: “our ‘clubhouse’ is Camp Nou, it is where all of our activity takes place” they say.

Motivation intact

Despite these difficult times, the Espai d’Animació groups are already preparing for the day they can return to the North Goal at Camp Nou: “We might have to adapt to capacity restrictions and social distancing measures, but that doesn’t mean anyone is less keen to get back inside the stadium and support the team. The date will be marked on our minds as soon as we learn it, and I’m sure we’ll think of something special to make sure it’s a day that everyone will remember.”