The first half of the season is already in the books, but there were less people watching. In Spain they are talking about the fact that the game itself could be in danger of changing radically in the coming months to years. The significant drops in attendance across the board are being looked at carefully; and even though the media there is keeping a watchful eye and a silent voice regarding the matter- the wheels are turning behind the scenes.
Barcelona made history with their incredible run, but they aren’t the only ones that raised eyebrows (no that’s not a good thing). The stadiums saw a drop in 432,058 fans across the board as compared to this time last year.
If you would like to look at the problem from another perspective, just check out the tip of the iceberg. The Nou Camp was emptier by 7,500 fans per match at the Nou Camp, this was more amazing especially after a team like the blaugrana went through such an amazing run and is on track to win the treble for the first time in Spanish football history.
Spain’s economic crisis is the number one reason for this dive. The unemployment rate fell to well over 13 percent mark. The economic crisis has finally begun to delve into the sports arena in Spain now and many individuals worry that there might be long-term effects in football because of it.
Spanish teams are also making the same mistakes that Major League Baseball has made by making tickets a little more inaccessible in a time when people’s pockets are suffering, but that is not the only reason why.
Another reason why they are not getting as many fans is because of the times that several matches are being played (are you listening, Barcelona?) For a father or any family, it is not right to take a child or a family group to a match that is to begin at 10pm. We are not talking about just Saturday night, we are talking about a midweek match sometimes. The Catalan derby in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals kicked off at around 10pm last week. So how can you expect families and children- the foundation and base of the sport’s future- to want to spend money (or watch on television) on a product at that time? These numbers are not only affecting the big teams, but you have to look at second division as well. In those teams, the lack of spectators hinders them from being competitive once again. Add to that the fact that that match had the possibility of violence breaking out in the stands and there was a potential recipe for disaster. So if anyone was a responsible parent, the football pitch was one place that I would avoid- especially so late at night. As that old 80’s song says- the freaks come out at night.
In a time in which Spain is in one of its greatest moments in their football history, the greed of few seems to have trumped the spirit of the majority. Football, except in the US, is the people’s game. It’s the game of the poor. It’s a game that helps young boys dream of buying their moms a house in the suburbs next door to the bored soccer mom. It’s a game that helps people get away from the real pain that the world has; and that is being taken away from them too.
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