I don’t know which team in La Liga you support, but I can assure you one thing: the fans of Athletic Bilbao are the most fervent in the league.
Two weeks ago I set off to the Copa del Rey in Madrid as the only girl amongst a group of rowdy Basques (brave, I know!), proudly sporting their red and white stripes and chanting “A lo loco, lo loco, lo loco, a lo loco se vive mejor!” in honor of their Argentine coach (amongst the seemingly thousands of other songs they have!)
Before I had arrived to Madrid, I’d heard that thousands of buses were coming down from Basque Country full of Athletic fans, but it wasn’t until the eve of the final that the sheer number of supporters was clear; I haven’t seen that much red and white even at the most outrageous Christmas parade in the States! (Take a look at the picture below!)
The Athletic Football Club had set up what they called Athletic Hiria (town) in a park behind the Royal Palace in Madrid. Here, thousands of ticket-less fans gathered to watch the game on big screens and drink lots of kalimotxo…naturally.
Though without a doubt Barcelona (the team Athletic was up against in the King’s Cup) has many more *cough* bandwagon *cough* fans worldwide, they were no match to the fans of Athletic. They estimated there were roughly 90,000 people in Athletic Town, and another 40,000 inside of the stadium. Those who were lucky enough to find tickets emerged from the game saying it was crazy how many more fans of Athletic were present versus those of Barcelona.
It was obvious on the streets of Madrid too—in the hours leading up to the game the center was full of red and white with hardly a Barca fan to be found. And even though Athletic lost, they still outnumbered the Barca fans in the bars afterward, celebrating an amazing season.
The moral of the story is: Athletic Bilbao fans know how to party.
Have you ever been to a Spanish football game?