After the first days in EL Salvador it looked like if I had never left Spain. Every single newspaper I read, there were FC Barcelona or Real Madrid at the front page. I did not know at all the fever salvadoran people had about football and especially about Spanish soccer. Wherever you look to, you can see Barça´s or Real Madrid´s colours and emblems: in every mean of transport, t-shirts, houses, boats…
Wherever I say I am from Spain, people ask me, before I can say a word, which team I support. I always answer the same. Ni Barça ni Madrid, Athletic de Bilbao! And some of them have started to change team. Here is the biggest supporter, Ever!
And this fever gets to the point that if Real Madrid and Barcelona play together people stop working and go to see the match. And this rivalry between these two teams has become dangerous. Tension is very high among supporters and quite often there are fights and quarrels that end badly. This is why police presence is reinforced whenever they play together. It is very strange to see them behave this way for something happening thousand of miles away from this small country.
However, there is a time when these two supporters come together forgetting any differences. It is when “La Selecta”, the national team. plays. This is definitely one of the biggest moment for Salvadorans. The country stops and the blue and white paints the country.
By the time La Selecta was playing the qualification round for the world cup against Costa Rica I was collaborating with Fundación Campo, a very special MFI. Its management has achieved to share with their employees strong values and they have established a true reliance relationship with their employees. One of the many activities they do to reinforce teamwork is going to San Salvador to support La Selecta.
As one more member of the team I went with them to support the national team against Costa Rica. The winner of the match would be classified to the World cup. After a 3 hours journey we arrived to San Salvador and we straightly entered to the stadium in order to take a good seat.
When I asked about the starting time of the match I got astonished. There were 4 hours and a half left, it was starting at 19:30! Soon I understood why we did this. First, two hours before the match began, the stadium was nearly full. And second because it was vibrant to warm up the match with the supporters. In the 4 hours and a half waiting, they did not stop singing, dancing, doing the wave and many more. It was an extraordinary experience seeing the unconditional support of the fans.
Unfortunately La Selecta was not at the same level as its fans and it was beaten by Costa Rica, losing any chance to qualify for the world cup. But as H. W. Arnold said, “ the worst defeat a person can have is when he loses his enthusiasm”. And this never happens to Salvadoran people. They are passionated people that get up again and again despite the difficulties they meet on the way. Sharing this experience with my colleages of Fundación Campo made me understand them better and consolidate myself as a member of their team.
As good Salvadorans, on the way back to San Miguel we started to dream again about seeing La Selecta playing a world cup…