Men’s and women’s Barça have different audiences: why?

BarcelonaThe majesty of Camp Nou is undeniable. The stands filled with mobile phone flashlights lighting up the lawn of the Culer temple give me goosebumps. This image, which has almost become a tradition when the Barça players step on the green, was repeated again on Wednesday in the emphatic victory against Rosengard (6-0). Once again, the footballers led by Jonatan Giráldez were the protagonists of a new night for records: the second best attendance (28,720 attendees) in the history of the group stage of the Champions League; they also achieved the first a few weeks ago against Bayern (46,967).

A few years ago it was unthinkable. Some filled their mouths with the phrase “Women’s football is not interesting”. Now the culers have managed to silence all those skeptics. But is the crowd that fills the Camp Nou for the men’s matches the same as for the women’s? If we take a quick look at the stands, the answer seems clear: a resounding no. With a simple glance, you can see an audience that is often more familiar, more local (and therefore less touristy) and with a greater presence of women. What is behind this new public that is eager to go to the temple to see them?

“It has a multifactorial explanation,” says Jordi Mir, sociologist and professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. “You cannot understand the growth of support for women’s football, and also in the case of Barça, without connecting it to the growth of feminism in the last decade. Consciously or unconsciously, the public shares this demand and puts the fight for equality at the center. We are facing the first moment in history when the majority of the population is feminist. It had never happened before,” says Mir.

And this movement is closely related to women’s football. When observing the public that attends Barça men’s matches, Mir has found two recurring profiles: “First, men who don’t go to see men’s football but women’s football. For a long time it has been said that women’s football does not was interesting, and that meant that the people who were going to see the male did not want to go to see the female. Now a new audience has opened up, which they did not expect, which has become loyal to the female. And secondly, some profiles relatives and more feminized: mothers, friends, cousins ​​and sisters. One of the things the women’s Barça is doing is to naturalize,” the sociologist emphasizes.

Women footballers, who fight every day to consolidate their profession in a masculinized and sexist world, have managed to create a community with the public that supports them and shares their values. “Women’s football is something else. It’s more equitable, with more honest sportsmanship. There are a lot of people who feel much more comfortable watching women’s football, because it’s a safe space. Men’s football is linked to displays of aggression. The Men’s football is the exponent of masculinity, where the idea of ​​”for my necks” prevails. Women’s football, on the other hand, is much less macho because it does not have to represent this dominant masculinity,” says Bruna Álvarez , professor of anthropology at the UAB. “There are many families, many boys and girls. I didn’t hear any insults, not one, which is unthinkable in a men’s game,” adds Álvarez, who was one of the spectators at this Wednesday’s game against Rosengard.

The variability of the public

In addition to ideological reasons – conscious or unconscious –, there are also administrative reasons in this difference in public. The fans who attend the men’s matches are mostly lifetime members and tourists who buy some of the remaining tickets that the club puts on sale. The women’s team still does not have a season ticket – neither for the Johan Cruyff Stadium nor for the Camp Nou – and both members and non-members have to buy tickets for each match, which also allows for audience variability. If we compare the figures, it can be seen that the majority of the public who buy tickets for men’s matches tend to do so in packages of two, while in the case of the women’s – in the last two matches against Bayern and Rosengard – 30% of the purchases were of packages of four tickets. If we look at the nationality, in the last two women’s Champions League matches, 96% of the tickets were for the local audience (followed by the United States -0.7% – and the United Kingdom -0.7% – ). In the case of men, the majority of purchases are within the national territory (46%), but followed by France (7.5%), the United Kingdom (6.2%) and Poland (4.9%). As for season tickets at the stadium, according to the club’s latest data – updated in July – there are 81,710.

“It is not football as a sport that excludes or is aggressive, but the genre that symbolizes football. It is being seen that if there are other genres that play football, it represents other values”, adds Álvarez. “Football players do not represent stereotypical femininity, but they can question the masculinity of football,” concludes the anthropologist.


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