Barcelona are one of the biggest clubs in world football. They enjoy a following that covers all corners of the globe, and the success of the team, and their style of play, has cultivated millions of supporters. Barca can challenge the leading outfits in the world, such as their LaLiga rivals Real Madrid along with Premier League giants Manchester United and Liverpool for their following overseas. One way Barcelona have been able to create their fanbase outside their own area has been to develop Penyas (social clubs) in towns and cities in all five continents.
The first Penya movement was created in 1919 when a social activity was organized between the club and their supporters to create further unity between the two groups. The first supporters’ group arrived during the Second World War in 1944, although it took four decades for the movement to harbor clubs across the globe.
Barcelona’s surge to the 1992 European Cup Final increased their fanbase. This was not only due to their success, but also to the presence of Bulgaria’s Hristo Stoichkov, Denmark’s Michael Laudrup, and Netherlands’ Ronald Koeman in their ranks. Future manager Pep Guardiola was also a starter in their triumph over Sampdoria.
Due to the multicultural nature of the team and the era of globalization, allowing people to travel and work across the world with ease, Barcelona fans spread to all five continents. Due to improving technology and the growing interest in soccer around the world, Penyas began to rise up in major cities. Official Penyas are controlled by Barcelona themselves and a group of fans wishing to install a new one have to apply to the club for permission. In total, as of 2020, there are 1,249 Penyas in operation across the globe, although the majority of those are based in Spain.
However, there are those that have spread to the United States, specifically New York City. Penya FC Barcelona NYC is hosted in 138 West 25th Street, Manhattan – just a few blocks away from Madison Square Garden. Smithfield Hall provides the venue where members of Penya FC Barcelona NYC can attend all Barcelona games, and events involving the group. It’s a great place to gather with like-minded people, especially in a city as vast as New York.
Penyas are a good way to make friends in large cities and lasting relationships can be built to enjoy other social activities around Barcelona. You can also get involved online within the community or by yourself by betting on daily fantasy sports involving Barca players. For example, soccer fans can bet on sports online in New York with an online provider such as DraftKings or Fanduel by creating a fantasy team that will no doubt feature a lot of Barcelona players. You then compete against multiple people or a single person by entering a stake. A profit is yielded if your team musters higher points based on the performances of the players in a match or a weekend slate of games.
There is a feeling of community as you face off against your friends or even people in the online world of betting. A knowledge of Barcelona would no-doubt help, and selecting their players would certainly create an advantage, as the club have proved on the field. You would certainly want Lionel Messi as part of a fantasy line-up, for example, as he has afforded bettors wagering on Barca along with his club a great deal of success over the last 15 years.
Messi has no doubt been responsible for the rise in supporters across the globe due to his brilliance on the field. As he approaches the end of his Barcelona career, it will be interesting to see whether the Catalan club can maintain their success. Victories and championships play a vital role in driving support to football teams. However, Manchester United have remained the most popular club in the world and a revenue-making machine, even in their decline over the last seven years.
Barcelona may have cultivated the same allegiance with their Penyas across the world, however. It would not be a surprise for further groups to emerge across the United States as soccer continues to grow as a sport in the country. The east and west coast are the main hubs at the moment, but that could change with the further success of the game and Barcelona maintaining their standard on the field.