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The Madridistas Take Manhattan

For the latest episode of In Exile, Billy Keenly visited with Real Madrid fans in Manhattan for Zidane’s first match in charge of the club as manager. Keep an eye out next week as KICKTV releases the next episode of the In Exile series.

For the latest episode of In Exile, Billy Keenly visited with Real Madrid fans in Manhattan for Zidane’s first match in charge of the club as manager. Keep an eye out next week as KICKTV releases the next episode of the In Exile series.

Words & Photos by Braden Ruddy

On Saturday January 8th, KICKTV was on hand in New York City to watch club legend Zinedine Zidane’s home coaching debut alongside the faithful supporters who make up Real Madrid’s official New York City fan club (Peña Madridista NYC).

The experience provided a lively glimpse into one vocal subsection of New York fan culture and demonstrated the global scope and popularity of the most decorated club of all time (32 La Liga titles, 10 Champions League trophies, 19 Copa del Rey Cups) in the most diverse city in the United States.

Indeed, Peña Madridista NYC exemplified Real’s international popularity as fans from Spain, the Americas, France, North Africa, and many other locales raised their pint glasses together on an unusually warm January afternoon in Manhattan to multilingually cheer on Zidane and Los Blancos.

Just blocks from the neon tourist glow of Times Square, Quinn’s serves as the official headquarters for Peña Madridista NYC. This Midtown Manhattan Irish bar may seem like an odd choice as the weekly destination for the most rabid Real Madrid fans in the city, but the flags, autographed Los Blancos shirts, and club scarves somehow manage to blend seamlessly with the dark wood Irish pub aesthetic and Iowa University football regalia inside.

Real Madrid claim to have 450 million fans around the world (6 percent of the global population) and are absurdly popular in Latin America where many fans choose between Real Madrid or Barcelona, in addition to their local club, at a young age. “Supporting Real Madrid in New York and being a member of this Peña just feels like family,” Nevie says proudly.

“In Morocco there are so many Real Madrid and Barcelona fans, the whole country is divided, even my own family,” he says with a laugh. “I support Real along with my father and brother, while my mother and younger brother root for Barca,” he continues. “We have a lot of pressure in terms of politics and economics right now in Morocco and the rest of the Middle East, but soccer—particularly Real Madrid—gives us oxygen and a reason to breathe despite everything else going on.”


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