Friday, July 3, 2009

Carlos Ruiz Zafón - bestselling man but not a Barça fan

One well-known Barcelona man who was certainly not thrilled by the Blaugrana's Champions League triumph against Manchester UnitedZafon. was Carlos Ruiz Zafón, author of international publishing phenomenon The Shadow of the Windand the biggest-selling contemporary writer in Spanish.

The Catalan capital is the setting for Zafon's works, which have been translated into 45 languages, but the 'mes que un club' (more than a club) mantra has never been one of his.

"I don't take it too seriously," Barcelona-born Zafón told Soccerphile about the club's cultural grip on the city and region. "I take it more with a pinch of salt. It's not a matter of life or death is it, eleven men against eleven kicking around a ball."

The horror! I was shocked that anyone from Barcelona could fail to be taken in by such a big event as their city's famous club winning the ultimate club prize. I like to think football is the world's greatest unifying force, a tidal wave of popular feeling at times like this. And that no club breaches the boundaries of the stadium to define its wider community more than Barcelona does. Have you been to the Camp Nou and its museum? It is a cathedral for a mass faith, isn't it? Maybe not.

Meeting Zafón, in London to promote his new title, 'The Angel's Game', I was reminded of the first time I went to Liverpool to see a match at Anfield. I had been expecting every Liverpudlian to be a mine of soccer knowledge and a world away from the snobbish middle-class folk of my southern home county for whom a knowledge of football was a real rarity...I was rebuffed when the first Scousers I spoke to told me they weren't really interested in football and preferred to watch horse-racing...To each his own, I shrugged, but what a comical let-down.

Of course, when football gets really big it is a national TV event which reels in all but the most die-hard curmudgeons, and even Señor Zafón, who now resides in Los Angeles, cannot escape that.

Was Zafón interested at all in FCB's Champions League victory in Rome? "I was a little bit," he conceded. I am happy for them when they win as it is such a big thing in Barcelona."

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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