Over the course of the past six months I’ve spent a considerable amount of time conducting research on both nationalism and market integration in football as part of a long-term thesis project. On January 9th and 10th, I attended both Real Betis and Sevilla’s Copa del Rey matches. The disparate experiences seen in the neighborhoods that house the teams, Heliopolis and Nervion respectively, revealed the lasting effect of the financial crisis on the game and offered a view into the state of the coming years. This micro-level experience fell in line with my macro-level my analyses. First: football responds to the market before the market in economic downturns and slower in recoveries, and second: that regional identities are magnified in times of economic crisis. Oh, and I also had a blast.
My week in Sevilla was a performance piece. I had elaborately designed to evade cultural superstition and sideways glances of nationalistic scorn so that I could see what being a ‘Sevillista’ or a ‘Betico’ really represented to the supporters and the neighborhoods that they represent. I wanted to become an insider, to really see what made these people tick. I stayed the bulk of my time in Nervion where there is no reason for tourists to visit the drab unornamented buildings and spent my time in the gap between tapa and racion. Not a tourist, but definitely not a local. My mission was to be a fly on the wall - I had a great time failing with that as my objective.