Scenes from Madrid during the UEFA Championship
Story by Julia Moss
On May 24, Real Madrid and Atlético fans turned a two-and-a-half hour UEFA Final match into a reason to celebrate all day. The game started at 8:45, but the party was already on. It was a rolling, wild parade, with each hour its own world of hopes held together and then dashed. We chose to take a look at a six-hour stretch to capture some of the lost details of the event. Vendors staking out the best spots, brothers battling across team lines, family that grew from brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, to the thousands who were in the streets hugging in triumph and then in defeat. Here are snapshots from 6 p.m to midnight that capture some of those of moments.
6:07 p.m. @ Alonso Martínez metro station; traveling to Santa Bernabéu stop
A sea of white Real Madrid jerseys crowds the platform of the Alonso Martínez metro stop. Friends and families crush together, matched in excitement and attire. When the metro arrives at the platform, those who had been anxiously waiting step onto an already-crowded train.
Inside, fans become family. Chants that start in the farthest end of the metro car quickly travel to the other. Real fans stand on chairs, chanting and pounding on the ceiling to keep the rhythm. The car is filled with chatter, chants and anticipation.
“Real Madrid Ale Ale
Real Madrid Ale Ale
Real Madrid Ale Ale”
The smell of beer hits immediately as the metro doors open and acts as the final reminder that the UEFA final isn’t just any game; it’s also an excuse to throw a party.
7:22 p.m. @ Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, northwest Madrid
A strange round of mechanical screeches catches the attention of anyone within 500 feet of Santiago Bernabéu Stadium walls. Some are confused, while others know exactly what it indicates: the doors to the stadium were opening.
En masse, crowds of people donning white jerseys and draped with flags plunge toward the stadium gates. Drinks are quickly guzzled and tickets are retrieved from pockets and bags.
Those who remain outside act as if nothing has changed—cigarette smoke still occupies every area surrounding the stadium, drinks are still poured, chants continue and the smell of alcohol remains in the air. There is plenty of time before the game officially begins, which means that there is time to continue enjoying the party atmosphere outside.
8:31 p.m. @ Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home of Real Madrid, outside
Outside Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, two brothers stand united in genes only. Fernando and Carlos Sarallevos are both Madrid supporters – but they differ in which side of the city their support goes to.
“[I am a Real fan] because all of my family is from Madrid and our team is Real Madrid,” says Fernando, the oldest of the two. “But my brother is a little bit silly and he’s for Atlético. But this night he will lose the match and Real Madrid will win the final.”
The brothers joked with each other, but showed no animosity. Each was sure that his team would win the day.
Carlos had joined his family at the home of Real Madrid. Even though he was surrounded by white jerseys, he didn’t hesitate to sport his red and white stripes or from expressing his honest opinion.
“Atlético will win this match,” Carlos says with certainty.
9:04 p.m. @ Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, inside
Inside Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home to thousands of Real fans who have gathered to watch the game on one of four massive screens in the middle of the field, the energy and excitement is tangible and contagious.
Fans are just as enthusiastic and animated as they were outdoors. Much of the same occurs – drinking, chanting, waving scarves and smoking – only this time in a smaller, contained environment.
An image of Atlético fans appears on screen and is met with jeers and crude gestures from the Real fans that make up the vast majority of the crowd. Upon seeing any player, supporter or coach from Atlético, the same reaction occurs.
A minute passes, and at 9:05 p.m. an image of Xabi Alonso fills the screen. At his image – a beloved player who was suspended for the game – the crowd begins clapping and cheering, a reaction in stark contrast to anyone sporting Atlético’s white and red stripes.
The shared excitement of Real fans disappears quickly, when at 9:22 p.m., Atlético scores the first goal of the game. Relative silence fills the stadium, interrupted only by curses and vulgar gestures. Soon after, a fan draped in a flag and holding a cigarette makes the sign of a cross and kisses his hand, presumably wishing for a Real comeback.
10:00 p.m. @ “Bar El Doblete,” outside Estadio Vincente Calderón, home to Atlético
Outside Bar El Doblete, a street-level business attached to Atlético Madrid’s Estadio Vincente Calderón, more than 100 fans are gathered, watching the final minutes of the match unfold.
This isn’t a crowd of passersby; they’ve stood and watched the entire game from the stadium’s sidewalk. Unable to get free tickets to watch in their beloved stadium, and too late to fit into the cramped bar, they happily watch the UEFA Final on a flat-screen TV the size of what might be in a modest living room.
“You have to come to the camp, here is where everyone from Atleti joins up,” explains Ivan Iglesias, a plumber from Madrid and lifelong Atlético fan. “It’s our house.”
Although Iglesias didn’t make it into the house, he doesn’t seem to mind.
“I’m here watching the game with my girlfriend and my friend,” he says, before opening his arms, acknowledging the crowd around him, “and our family.”
11:32 p.m. @ Plaza de Cibeles, in the heart of Madrid
Fans started populating Plaza de Cibeles immediately after Real clinched their win, 4-1, and the party has certainly started by 11:30 p.m. A DJ has set up in front of a large screen where the post-game festivities are being aired.
Music is blasting and hundreds of fans are gathered dancing and singing along to a mixture of American Top-40 and Spanish hits.
Thomas Hollrigl is one of many fans enjoying himself. Dancing, cheering and drinking, he makes his way through the crowd of ecstatic supporters. Carrying a beer and wearing two Real scarves, he hugs and high fives anyone and everyone he comes across.
Hollrigl represents the elation of each Real fan after the reality sinks in that they won the UEFA final. But while Hollrigl and his fellow Real supporters party in the streets, Atlético fans have nothing to celebrate.
Atlético supporters wander the streets and head home after a tough loss while fans of reigning Real Madrid plan to party all night.
Additional reporting from Dylan Lewis