They say there are three great fútbol afficions in Europe: Barça, Real Madrid and Betis. The azulgrana is mighty, Madrid a heavy hitter and, um, Betis isn’t even in the premiere league.
After a rough week, my friend Kim called to invite me to a game. Based on a points system (I swear these people must be economists), Spaniards make predictions on who will ascend to or, worse, be kicked out of the top tier of the Spanish League. Number of goals scored is more important than whether the game is won or tied, and the other Sevillian team’s nine points ahead of it’s next opponent as of the kick-off time made it clear that, with a win tonight and Celta’s loss to a strong Salamanca tomorrow, the return to primera was locked in.
In order to boost attendance at games, season ticket holders, called socios, can score extra tickets for only 15€. I grabbed the only green shirt I had (the other option was my lime-green shawl from Feria) and headed south to Estadio Benito Villamarín, home to the verdiblancos.
Roaring with cariño, the béticos waved their green and blue scarves while shouting insults at their crosstown rivals, FC Sevilla, and the night’s opponents, Tenerife. Once in our seats at the top end of the home section, we joined the fans dancing to theme songs, chants and dances. The line up announced, the béticos perched in their seats, Betis’s Casto delivered a clear shot into the net, and the béticos were on their feet.
I miss American football, namely watching Monday Night Football with my dad or drinking my first beer at 6am on Melrose Avenue in Iowa City. But something about my afición for my second city and its fútbol is starting to make me feel more at home.
The fútbol that night was a little bit soso, but Betis pulled out a win, and our return to the top division is secured. Fans rushed the field, diving onto the astroturf, waving scarves and flags, and taking pictures. I was rushed back to Kinnick stadium on game days, making me nostalgic and a little
bit homesick. But, I had to live in the moment. Volveremos a primera, Real Betis Balompíe!!