If you were planning on grabbing lunch this afternoon near Sevilla’s famous Cathedral, think again. Your lunch would be thoroughly interrupted by thousands of Betis fans lighting green smoke bombs and screaming “Mucho Betis!” “Viva Betis!”.
One of the Betis chants goes “¡¡BETIS ALÉ, REAL BETIS BALOMPIÉ, TIENES QUE GANAR LA COPA, A PLAZA NUEVA HAY QUE VOLVER!!” Today, I was lucky enough to witness this foreshadowed return to Plaza Nueva that has been sung by béticos for years. Real Betis won the Copa del Rey last night in Spain with a penalty victory over Valencia. Before my family or friends call me asking how I can even form that sentence, credit for this information goes out to my more knowledgeable soccer-loving friends.
Plaza Nueva is one of Sevilla’s principal squares where you can find el Ayuntamiento de Sevilla (City Hall). The Renaissance-style building and Plateresque decorated doors after often guarded by police officers. Because of the building’s political importance, climbing on the windows, for instance, would undoubtedly be looked down upon. Well, not today. Moms and dads lifted their kids up to grasp the guardrails of the City Hall windows so they might have a chance at seeing their favorite players.
The players rode on a bus past the Cathedral and waved to their loyal fans. It was like a Macy’s Day parade but instead of Tom Turkey leading the floats down Broadway, it was 68-year-old, Betis coach, Manuel Pellegrini, leading rowdy fans down Avenida de la Constitución. When the bus turned the corner, we had no idea where they must have gone. Then we realized, there they were standing, the Betis players, above us on the balcony of City Hall. In between the leafy trees that shade the plaza, we could see the soccer players holding the cup and singing with their fans. To my left, a young girl was facetiming her grandma to show her the long-awaited moment. To my right, a group of 20-something-year-old men crying. As fans around us sang, hugged, and cried, my friends and I realized the importance of this moment. We felt so fortunate to witness something that hadn’t happened for 17 years. Even as our host families waited for us at home with dinner, we struggled to leave because we were so in awe of the legendary celebration. The experience was once-in-a-lifetime. I hope I did a good enough job doing the moment justice and staying unbiased. The truth is… I’m a Sevilla fan. ¡SEVILLA SEVILLA SEVILLA, AQUI ESTAMOS CONTIGO SEVILLA!