Followers create their very own gentle present at FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou Stadium on Aug. 24 throughout that workforce’s match in opposition to Manchester Metropolis. (Mike Hlas/The Gazette)

There I used to be 4,580 miles from residence, surrounded by derisive whistles and joyful chants, cheering for objectives scored by athletes I didn’t know.

OK, this isn’t a what-I-did-on-my-summer-vacation factor. Nobody cares and nobody ought to. Inform me about your fishing journey to Ontario and my eyes get extra glazed than something on the market at Donutland.

Secondly, yeah, I do know it’s the primary actual week of faculty soccer and a few suppose each inch of copy on this week’s sports activities part ought to be soccer, soccer, soccer. We’ll get there on this piece. Type of.

Anyway, I’m nearly all the time on the skin trying inward. Which is nice if it’s a zoo or a smoking lounge or another person’s household. At sporting occasions, although, you who’re within the crowd are having a much better time than we media mopes who observe you.

Final Wednesday, I bought to be a full-blown fan at Camp Nou, a 99,354-seat stadium in Barcelona. FC Barcelona played a friendly against Manchester City.

A pleasant, for the uninitiated like I used to be not way back, mainly means an exhibition sport. This one was a profit for analysis into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Since Man Metropolis and Barcelona are fabled franchises, the occasion drew over 91,000 folks for a 9:30 p.m. begin on a weeknight.

Now right here’s the place I lamely attempt to make this native and drop within the identify “Kinnick Stadium,” the place the considered a 9:30 p.m. kickoff would make college and native law-enforcement officers tremble in terror.

Like 93-year-old Kinnick, 65-year-old Camp Nou is on the sting of a residential space. It’s a brief stroll from a whole lot of neighborhood locations to eat and drink. Kinnick is a brief stroll from Stella restaurant, which absolutely will wish to provide me a cheeseburger in alternate for this nice plug.

Nobody outdoors Camp Nou performs cornhole or no matter you wish to name that beanbag exercise that has change into a school soccer tailgating fixture. Why would they think about a sport that requires utilizing your arms slightly than your ft?

The seating at Camp Nou is best and roomier than Kinnick’s (who’s isn’t?), however Kinnick’s video boards in its two finish zones are bigger and clearer.

Each stadiums favor American rock, pop and hip-hop music over Spanish hits. The official identify of Barcelona’s stadium, in any case, is Spotify Camp Nou.

When night time video games are held at each venues, followers use the flashlights or particular apps on their telephones’ flashlights to make it appear like fireflies are populating the stands. It’s a small world in any case.

Kinnick is the one one of many two stadiums that sells alcohol. That in all probability contributed to the actual fact I noticed nobody behave badly among the many 91,000 at Camp Nou earlier than, throughout, or after the sport.

The truth is, it was a household environment. A lady and her two younger daughters sat instantly to our proper. The women have been very within the sport.

A row in entrance of us, a middle-aged lady sporting a Barcelona jersey appeared to stay and die with every motion of the ball, protecting her mouth in nervousness when Man Metropolis threatened to attain.

Most journey guides to Barcelona point out the Camp Nou stadium tour. It’s an excellent moneymaker for the workforce. Which it wants, since it’s hemorrhaging money. It spent at least 153 million Euros in the summer transfer window, worldwide soccer’s model of participant free company.

FC Barcelona has stars from Poland, France and Brazil. But, its followers determine with them. Which shouldn’t appear unusual, since key Iowa gamers are from Illinois, California and Australia.

I’ve come to love soccer greater than soccer. The video games are simply two hours lengthy they usually don’t interrupt play for commercials a dozen occasions. Extra importantly, if I’m at a soccer sport it in all probability means I’m on trip.

Nevertheless, vacation is over and soccer season is right here. Should you see me within the Kinnick parking tons Saturday, be happy to supply me a few of Spain’s unimaginable Iberico ham. However I wouldn’t flip down a cheeseburger.

Feedback: (319) 398-8440; mike.hlas@thegazette.com


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