Second String Situations: Almeria – Barça

Copa Preview: Almeria-Barça, Wednesday 2pm, GolTV(HD)

Almeria: an enemy of epic proportions. Or, at least, of epic scorelines. 2 matches, 13 goals scored and 0 conceded. It’s hard to imagine a more meaningless match than the return leg of a 5-0 score, but don’t tell that to Real Betis, who are no doubt thrilled to pieces to have gotten a win against Barça. Almeria may very well do the same if the team plays as lacklusterly as they did against Betis, but Betis is probably actually better than Almeria, so who knows.

The Copa del Rey was Almeria’s last, best hope for anything decent this season and they fell to the 5-0 juggernaut with minimal fight. I know I used the past tense in that previous sentence, but it’s technically possible for Almeria to win 6-0 (or 5-0 and then go on to win on PKs), so it would be silly to think that Pep will do anything other than field a ferocious, 1st team lineup. These are the matches, though, where non starters can not only earn valuable playing time, but also demonstrate that they should get more regular action.

With the league heating up–remember, it’s February–the squad needs as much rest as it can get. The Champions League is coming up and that’s not going to be pretty if we’re running on fumes in March. Look at what’s happening to RM. 1 little injury to Pepe and the wheels slowly come unstuck because of fatigue.

So yeah, Bojan should play today and all that. Whatever. Let’s talk about some club business that has me in a bit of a tizzy. The club has announced today (as of this moment, only in Spanish and Catalan) that there is a fourth road to membership. If you’ll recall, the current membership requirements are 1) be related to a current member in the first or second degree, 2) have previously been a member, or 3) be 13 or under. This new manner of becoming a member is open to everyone, but it’s got some caveats.

So, for starters, it’s a carné de compromiso, or a supporter’s card and it takes 3 years of supporter status to “earn” the right to become a full member. It costs less than membership, but it still costs money–they’re quoting €125 per year instead of the membership’s €161.50. And for that, what do you get? Well, you get all the rights members do, well, er, with the following 4 oh so minor exceptions:

  1. You can’t vote.
  2. You can’t hold a season ticket or get on the season ticket wait list.
  3. You don’t get members’ access to tickets for finals (CL, Copa) or significant matches.
  4. You can’t participate in the Llotja Oberta.

There’s no explanation as to what “significant” means–Champions League quarter finals? Villarreal visiting? You’ll have to wait to find out! It’s certainly exciting!

So basically, you can’t do anything you’d have membership for, with the exception of getting mass emails from team and going to see Zaragoza play at the Camp Nou. Oh and, in case you were all geeked about doing this, you have to show up in person to become one. No, I’m not making that up. You have to go to the club offices in person and you too can give the club €375 to be a second class citizen.

There are so many reasons this is disgusting, but most of them do go back to the reasons why Rosell’s new membership plans are so objectionable. Keep the riff-raff out. If, of course, by riff-raff we mean them. The others. And yes, I read this as a racist response to xenophobic thinking. This new supporter’s card is just another example of how meaningless the foreign fans are to this new administration. I had my problems with the way Laporta approached things on a personal level–he ignored children asking to shake his hand and refused to let the team sign autographs for them at Chelsea Piers when they vised NYC a couple of years ago, for instance. Children who stood in the hot sun for 5 hours because FCB couldn’t show up on time and then didn’t even wave to them. Good for Xavi for coming over and signing someone’s jersey–but Rosell is targeting an entire group because, well, thems ain’t real Catalans.

I’m peeved about this because it’s one thing to say “you can become a member” and it’s another to say “you’re an actual second class citizen, but pay us for the privilege.” Blech. It tastes like hell. And sure, I’m already a member, so I don’t have to worry about this, but this isn’t about me, this is about the club, what it should stand for, and the racism and xenophobia being openly espoused by Rosell and his administration. Most of those who read this blog are not Catalan natives born to the world where carnets are readily available and affordable, but hey, screw you. Yeah, you, you from the Philippines, you’re not a real fan. I know you get up at 3am to watch all of the matches, follow the team religiously, and have studied the club’s history in more detail than most Catalans, but you’re not a real fan. You’re different. You’re other. Same with you, you from Wisconsin, you from El Salvador, you from Nigeria. You’re all different, you’re all other. You’re all not really Barça material, you know? Pass, move, offer. Except for membership. Don’t offer membership to just anyone because who knows what kind of change might happen over the years.

Mes Que un Compte Bancari, more like it.

Official Prediction: 1-3, goals by Bojan (2) and Keita.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


  1. Tarik
    February 2, 2011

    OK, I know this is unrelated to this actual game…of which I am excited to watch. However, I want to attend a game quite badly and I am thinking the only game I can make it to this year is the Real Madrid/Barcelona match in Madrid. Everyone here seems seriously knowledgeable on issues such as this and I assume many have attended games on the regular. I’m somewhat of a lurker but have posted for a pretty long time…so I didn’t just register to ask this question.

    I have absolutely NO idea how to go about this, because the tickets don’t seem to be sold on the EE site. Any idea the best way (or rather, the cheapest) to purchase a ticket to a match in Spain? This will be my first Barca match…anything to expect as an away fan at a game like this? I am so pumped.


    • Extreme barca fan
      February 2, 2011

      @ Tarik: welcome, sadly it might be easier to climb mt Everest than to get a ticket for the classico, any other game would have been 5794857 times easier to get, also r u from the middle east??

      • February 2, 2011

        Your best bet is as part of a tour group. If you look online, you should be able to find many an offer. They won’t be cheap, but they’re out there. Though why anyone would want to enter that place is beyond me. 😀

      • Tarik
        February 2, 2011

        My family is from the Middle East. I was actually in Egypt until early yesterday visiting family/supporting the protests…but still managed to find a widely watched Barcelona match over the weekend (3-0) that I think really cheered up some depressed brethren of mine. It was a weird contrast (gunfire/futbol).

  2. February 2, 2011

    Now I’m going to be contrarian here, and make a few devil’s advocate comments:

    –Heretofore, there was NO WAY for someone who wasn’t already a soci, to become one now there is.

    –It looks like this probationary “membership” is a test, like the Seven Trials (might have been 48. I don’t do numbers) of Hercules. If, at the end, you’re still there, you’re in.

    –Barcelona tourism will increase, since my understanding is that you only have to show up in person for the initial application.

    –It ain’t just foreign fans. Catalunya is a large region. Sometimes, for some supporters, Perpignan is as far away as Kansas.

    Now, do I think this is a brilliant move by the club? No. And judging from the reaction, nobody does. Twitter is ablaze with “dismiss Rosell!” comments. But it is something, which is more than people had before, be they wannabe socis in the Phillipines or farther-flung parts of Catalunya.

    • geevee
      February 2, 2011

      Hey! I’m from the Philippines!


      I so want to be a soci. At least now, I have a chance.

      • February 2, 2011

        And you didn’t even laugh at me for incorrectly spelling Philippines. Hats off to you.

        • complotGP
          February 2, 2011

          We’ll let it go this time, but next time…*brandishes Barça knives* 😀

    • mei
      February 2, 2011

      My only hope for this , is that it seems like a sign of rosell acknowledgement of the previous mistake.
      Does it rectify it? Nope.
      Is it a step in the correct direction? I would hardly say so.
      But it is something and I can only hope that in time ,things will smooth out on this one.
      Maybe future corrections will be bolder and be more sincere.

      • February 2, 2011

        But I think that it is a step in the right direction, mei. At this same time yesterday, it was impossible for almost everyone to become a soci. Now, it is very possible. I’d say that it’s a huge step in the right direction.

        Yes, the ultimate right directly would be to return things to as they were, where you can become a soci, period, without any birth, etc, restrictions. But I think those days are gone.

        • mei
          February 2, 2011

          You know that I ‘m not a rosell hater kevin,
          For sure im not a fan of his , but I stand far from the majority of barca fans that oppose to him and at best view his actions from the prism of scepticism.
          However paying almost three times more for a nothing card , that will eventually after 3 years grant you the right to become a member, having to apply for it in person in the camp nou, well it sounds like a rip off.
          Not because its such a bad thing to visit the camp nou , but thats simply not how things are done nowadays.
          Its 2011 , most people use the internet , and prefer it for its convenience.We are a step away from flying cars dammit, get in the loop!

          • February 2, 2011

            True, but as I said, at this same time yesterday you had zero chance of becoming a soci. Now you can, but you have to want it. In many ways, our club is old-fashioned.

            And I only wish we were a step away from flying cars. Then they wouldn’t have to plow the roads after snowstorms, right?

    • Nik
      February 2, 2011

      Is it better than nothing? Sure, I guess. But as Isiah says, the rules still treat non-Catalans as second-class citizens. No matter how much spin is put on that fact, it still hurts.

    • chaospheory
      February 2, 2011

      To be further contrarian (I haven’t been looking at Barcelona politics long enough to have a strong opinon on Rosell):

      Perhaps Rosell is simply trying to raise the bar to become a socio. A move like that would, by definition, make membership more “exclusive” and I think that the exclusivity has been pushed too far, but what is necessarily bad about a smaller pool of people who are more committed to the club than a larger number of casual people?
      Also, there seems to be a contradiction in their overall club movement: even as FC Barcelona becomes an increasingly global presence and brand (by their own marketing and design), they seem to be narrowing the field of those who can “truly” be hardcore cules. What up with that?

    • Jim
      February 2, 2011

      I asked this in another post, Kxevin. Are there any benefits you can see that you get if you buy this card or does it depend what they mean by “significant” matches?

      Or are you in effect just having to pay for three years for the privilege of then getting to become a socio?

      • February 2, 2011

        None whatsoever, Jim. I don’t even think it gets you access to the socis-only presale. But as others have noted, it raises the bar. If people are serious about becoming socis, they’ll sign up. If they aren’t, they won’t. And it isn’t just non-Catalans. Catalans have to do the same thing. Remember, Catalunya isn’t just Barcelona.

    • complotGP
      February 2, 2011

      At first I was glad that the current board made an effort, no matter how cursory it seemed, to let more people become members. But hearing about the personal appearance requirement made me give up any hope of being a soci in the next few years.

      It’s not just about the effort required to get to BCN, it’s the money needed to actually get there. Before being culés we are after all human beings with families to support, and given the finances of many Filipinos, traveling to BCN to get this commitment card is not one of our top priorities. It saddens me that this is the policy Rosell chose to put in place but still, I’m a culé through and through. I hope the next president will be more enlightened.

      Visca Barça!

  3. Huckleberry
    February 2, 2011

    FCB is and will be a Catalan Club. The fans around the world who love the club because of the success or the wunderful play will very fast loose interrest or switch to an other club (Madrid, Chelsea…), when the success or the wonderful play is gone. Only the Catalan will stay…

    • Extreme barca fan
      February 2, 2011

      Not me, i stayed loyal during the dark years of gaspart, i think many are just like that

    • mei
      February 2, 2011

      But it wasnt founded as such. And it doesnt have to be like this.
      Catalans found a way to express themselves via the club and its events , and were forever bound with the club after the well known events during the franco era.
      But it wasnt founded as an exclusively catalan club , the opposite! , and doesnt have to end up that way either.

    • February 2, 2011

      I disagree. FCB’s founder was a Swiss businessman. Yes, its roots run deep in Catalan lore and history, and it is one of the most glittering Catalan institutions. But to say that it is a Catalan club, and only the Catalans will stay is something I strongly disagree with.

      I came to the club during the crap years. No Ronaldinho joga bonito, no nothing. Just losses. I stayed, and eventually became a soci. And though I am learning Catalan, I am not and never will be Catalan.

      Now there are fair-weather fans who will desert the club once the trophies stop, and that’s their right. I think that clubs have followers, fans and fanatics …. and then some of us. 😀

      But even Catalans were left out of the new soci restrictions. The misconception is that RoSELL wants to close the doors on foreigners. He wanted to close the doors, period.

      • Ryan
        February 2, 2011

        Seriously, unless your Catalan background includes some FCB socis, you’re just as out of luck as any other guy. Just my luck that my Barcelona family is composed of Pericos. (yuck)

    • outerspacedout
      February 2, 2011

      Why? Do tell us. Is there some kind of mental switch in a person’s brain where they can only truly like or support a club if they are within a certain radius of it’s stadia, or born to a particular lineage or group? Pray tell me, how exactly? Is it that the genes of loyalty to and love for a club is something inherent only in Catalan chromosomes and somehow lacking in the rest of us inferior humans, or is Barca some kind of entity which is impossible to love unless you actually have some Catalan blood in you, something that otherwise would be ugly and repulsive were it not for success except for people from a certain place?

      Do inform us, because I didn’t know about any of those things. If it is such, I should probably be going and getting a DNA test, because- shock and horror- I remained a fan even during 2006-2008 when we were crap, how oh how? Are my parents really my parents? Am I adopted? Was I set adrift on a little basket off the coast of Catalonia where I floated to the Maldives and was raised as a Maldivian? And to think I would have never known, if not for this news that were I not Catalan, I would have left and become a Chelsea fan or a Madridista when we go through a patch without success or brilliance.

      You have changed my life, Huckleberry. I will start packing right away, to travel to Spain- no wait, the Autonomous region of Catalonia- in search of my true family. I just hope that they’re not Espanyol fans though- or worse, Madridistas- if they are, count this as my suicide note. If not, cheers to all you guys and I’ll sign in here from sunny Barcelona in a few weeks to tell you about my new parents and whether or not I saw Shakira over there, unless I confuse her for the Pyrenees mountains (

      And now off I go. To all the writers who put in tons of effort, research and emotional involvement- and in the case of Kari, Bojan- into this website, I’ll just say this- when our success and beautiful play is gone, I’ll still be a Barcelona fan cos I have it in my DNA, while the rest of you will, sadly and perhaps reluctantly but just because your brains are wired that way, turn into Madridistas and populate the EE pages with detailed analyses by Euler of Mourinho’s brilliant ‘we are down a goal so lemme throw three strikers on the pitch!’ tactics and loving GIFs of Sergio Canales (then on loan at Getafe, obviously) by Kari. Too bad, really. But I’ve stayed too long. I must confront this man and woman who have tricked me into thinking I was their son now, and go in search of my true destiny. Wish me luck.

    • blitzen
      February 2, 2011

      Oh, in case it’s not clear, it is contrasting where the cantera players of Barca and Madrid have ended up.

  4. MoSSi
    February 2, 2011

    Love the new look! Love this blog..

    Who do you guys follow on twitter related to spanish football and Barca?

  5. Eklavya
    February 2, 2011

    You what’s funny? This is a BARCA blog and people come here many times in an hour and yet how is it that I keep forgetting that we have a match in about an hour?

    So much diversity.

  6. Tom_Johnson
    February 2, 2011

    One should be careful not to overreact.

    It looks to me that the new management had wanted to freeze the activity so it can asses the situation. They took a public hit for that. After the assesment has been made, they had now stepped up to offer ways to become the member.

    The way the process is set up it strikes me as trying to make sure the ‘bandwagon’ fans are out. Their thinking probably goes along the lines that if you really are passionate and put premium on what the club stands for then you’ll understand our concerns and endure the process.

    To help put things into context, you need to understand that the mind set is different in Europe. The nationalism is much stronger. Although the club has been founded by a Swiss, it became the symbol for catalan (local) people. Symbol of ‘independence’ and fight against the regime. That is what their history revolves around.

    While they were being oppressed, foreigners helped them considerably little, financialy or politically. It was not foreigners who were put into jail and executed. They were not rushing to Camp Nou to speak English or German/Italian but to speak Catalan. Speak and perserve their culture. Heck, even the stadium has been probably built mainly with ‘contributions’ made by locals.

    Have the ‘foreigners’ been splitting bills all this time and been equally persecuted, I would understand. But we need to be realistic here. This is not to give Catalan people excuse to be xenophobic or racist. But The Club ‘belongs’ to them and is up to them to manage it the way they please. For better or worse.

    There are generally two paths for any club to take:
    – preserve the identity
    – become a global brand

    While I would like them to take that next step and evolve, I don’t think anyone has the right to criticize them if they chose to preserve their identity.

    Quickly about the complaints ‘2 and 3’:

    I see this to be no real disadvantage. The present waiting list is, what, 44 years anyhow. ‘Important’ home games are expected to be a sell out anyhow so there wouldn’t be too many tickets available to begin with. The only serious disadvantage is with the lottery part.

    • outerspacedout
      February 2, 2011

      Very good point there for the flip side of the argument.

      Especially in terms of it being a waiting period yeah I get it. Us not being bandwagon fans may be outraged and rightly so, but then again when you look at the huge numbers of ‘fans’ that flood Soccernet or mostly crowing about how awesome we are and how we will beat everyone else while not knowing that Messi plays in the centre and Villa on the left now or that Abidal is our starting LB not Maxwell, who became fans in just the past couple of years and do nothing except talk crap to other fans and other Barca fans and would probably get bored after our success wave ends (not categorizing specifically, but you guys know what kind of people I’m talking about- kinda like the Ronaldo and Mourinho following fans that are now ‘Real Madrid fans’) (and I don’t say people who became fans recently are any worse fans than ones from before, many recently converted fans are genuine fans, Soccermom04 for one I would say, but many are also bandwagoners)- huge waves of new ‘members’ coming in every wave of success would seem to make membership privileges unworkable and devalue it too, probably.

      That said, I still dislike how the current administration seems to have a ‘if you’re from outside of Catalonia, you’re less of a fan’ sort of mindset, feels like a slap in the fan to devoted fans from other parts of the world. I don’t like the way it’s being done, or the way they’re going about it, or the vibes they give out and the things they say. Especially when they’re fine with taking TV money and merchandising money and the likes from international markets and viewers while excluding them.

      (Hmm, all in all this comment was rambling and ultimately had little point, but oh well I’ll assume someone reads it and gets what I mean)

      • outerspacedout
        February 2, 2011

        I mean my comment was very rambling, not yours

      • Tom_Johnson
        February 2, 2011

        The thing is, this team is likely to dominate and keep winning during the next three years. That means the number of ‘bandwagon’ fans is not going to go down anytime soon.

        “if you’re from outside of Catalonia, you’re less of a fan’ sort of mindset,”

        Not the impression I got. I do allow possibility that someone like you have.

        The management simply needs to improve their PR. Explain the reasoning and communicate the decision in a manner that doesn’t rub foreign fans the ‘wrong way’.

    • mei
      February 2, 2011

      Wait a minute.
      We are talking about a football club here , not about the nation that stands beside it.
      Catalans found a way to express themselves via the club , but thats that.
      Every single other european country had their own problems at that time , anyway.
      Football was not even a global sport back then.
      And anyway this isnt about what happened 50 years ago , although it does and always will have a sentimental effect to all cules ,catalans or not, yet this is about now.
      Barcelona has gone glocal , and there are passionate supporters waiting to help. Do you cast them out , or let them?
      The values , history ,tradition are all there.
      Some of them as far as the sporting side is concerned have been nurtured by foreigners.

      • Tom_Johnson
        February 2, 2011

        “Wait a minute. We are talking about a football club here”

        Ahem, does ‘Mes que un Club’ ring any bells?

        The Catalan history and what happened 50 years ago might not matter to you but it sure does to locals.

        (Un)fortunately, The Club and its stadium happen to be located in Barcelona, Catalunya and not somewhere else. The locals get to decide do they want to accept ‘help’ from foreign fans and in what shape.

  7. Jim
    February 2, 2011

    I’m not complaining abut anyone’s right to institute such a card – merely asking what i would get for my money.

    If the only benefit is to be able to buy tickets for a game that wouldn’t be sold out anyway they should be more up front and say we’re gonna charge you an extra £300 for the privilege of being able to apply. Not for me.

    The going to Barcelona to pick it up , however, would be a pleasure. In fact, I’m going back this summer. Anyone want me to pick up one for them ? 🙂

    • February 2, 2011

      As Tom notes, it’s for the “serious.” I agree that it rules out anyone who isn’t able to trek to Barcelona for a match, at which point you can sign up, pay your dosh and then wait 3 years to not become a hatchling. But it’s still something, and it means that membership isn’t a closed society any longer.

  8. February 2, 2011

    Well said, Isaiah. The membership situation ticks me off so much. One day I’ll get to be a member. I believe it. But it probably won’t be until Rosell’s gone.

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