Barcelona Dragons or Rhein Fire: Comparing two fanbases at opposite ends of the attendance rankings

By Michael Voitek

At one stadium, up to tens of thousands of people stream through the gates excited to watch a European League of Football game. In the other, a thousand diehard fans at best find their way to the stadium to watch their beloved team.

That’s the contrast in fan support that can be found in the ELF. However, the story is not as cut and dry as it seems.

Photo: Barcelona Dragons

To most, the low attendance numbers would seem to signal a fanbase that doesn’t care about football or the team. In the case of the Barcelona Dragons however, quite the opposite is true. Admittedly, they don’t have the raucous pre-party with a band, mechanical bull, and multiple vendors that the Rhein Fire have before their games. But they do have a party that feels more like a holiday get-together with all of your closest friends and family. The Dragons may not have hordes of people filing through the gates before the game starts, but they do have every fan in attendance walk a lap around the stadium, shouting chants and parodied songs, before entering into the stadium as one.

Rhein Fire fans Photo: Werner Thorenz

The German people’s love for football may well be unmatched outside of North America. At Schuainsland-Reisen Arena in Düsseldorf, the Rhein Fire faithful are always in full effect and ready to cheer on their team. They wear old and new Fire jerseys (the Fire were once part of the old NFL Europe), put face paint on, and bring their whole family with them. The crowd is huge, loud and filled with energy. For opposing teams, it’s an intimidating place to play while also being a blast. It is impossible to avoid getting caught up in the atmosphere, in the passion of the fans. They love football. Pure and simple.

In Barcelona, there’s not the same reception to football. Most people in the city are not fans of American football or maybe like it but wouldn’t go out of their way to attend anything that wasn’t the NFL. When you head to the Barcelona Dragons home stadium – Estadi Olimpic di Terrassa – you’re not sure at first how the game will be received. Without a doubt, their fanbase is loyal, loud, and wild. It almost seems like the fanbase holds a chip on their shoulder, as if they think people outside of Spain think lesser of them for not having big crowds, and they want you to know they can be just as loud as any European League of Football crowd out there. To make up for the lack of people at the game, they have a superfan bring a megaphone and screams (without breaks) throughout the entire game.

Photo: Barcelona Dragons

On this day, in a game when the Dragons were trailing by 30 points in the fourth quarter against the Munich Ravens, the entire fanbase went from the second deck to right up against the fence of the field. They wanted the opposing team to know that they were there, they were strong, and they weren’t going anywhere, no matter the score. That demonstration spoke volumes to the type of crowd they have: true die-hards, lifers.

For all the differences between these two fanbases, they have one thing in common – a love of football.


Well, that, and an urge to celebrate some good times. It’s impossible to choose a favorite between the two because they’re both special in their own ways. The Fire games will feel as close to an NFL game as you can get in Europe, whereas the Dragons games will feel intimate, welcoming, and homey. You can’t go wrong either way, so might as well attend a game at both. You may be surprised at how much fun this beautiful game can be.

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