Barcelona already have one global superstar with a propensity for dying his hair and spiking it in every which direction. To get to training they already have to battle through hoards of teenage girls waiting outside for a certain heartthrob who knows how to take a selfie better than most. So when Justin Bieber turned up at Barcelona’s training base on Monday for a kick-about with Neymar no real difference was noted.
Of course, it wasn’t the first time that the two had hung out. They were BFFs back in June as well, juggling a ball around the back garden in what was probably an extremely highlight edited video. The most surprising thing isn’t that Bieber and Neymar are buddies, it’s that Bieber isn’t completely terrible at football. He has the technique of Djimi Traore facing his own goal, but his left foot is actually quite cultured. More cultured than his music, anyway. Sorry, not sorry.
If Bieber is now a Barcelona fan he is guilty of switching allegiance. Not so long ago he was snapped wearing an Arsenal shirt and before that an Everton shirt. On that basis, maybe he’s just a really big fan of Mikel Arteta? He’ll wear a Manchester City tracksuit for his next kick-about.
He’s just another celebrity football fan who would struggle to name a single first team player let alone recall that famous FA Cup third round replay win over Shrewsbury Town. It could be that Bieber is simply a fan of the sport in general, but he certainly isn’t alone in attaching himself to a club in the public eye.
Tom Hanks, for instance, is a well-known Aston Villa supporter. He has appeared on the red carpet wearing the club’s colours before and even travelled to Portland to watch the Villans play a pre-season friendly in 2012. There he was introduced to Paul Lambert who proceeded to suck all the fun out of one of Hollywood’s most joyous actors. It would explain why Hanks’ films in the time since have been so poor. It’s all Lambert’s fault - a common saying around Villa Park.
Sylvester Stallone is an Everton fan while Usain Bolt is a self-proclaimed Manchester United fanatic. The sprinter is the only reason they keep signing commercial partnerships at Old Trafford; they can always count on Bolt to snap up a United-endorsed product. His bedroom is like a teenage boy’s, plastered with posters of his favourite players and a can of Gulf Oil, the official lubricant of Manchester United, on his chest of drawers.
Bolt is the celebrity equivalent of that neighbour you once lent a drill battery to and now rings the doorbell every second week to see if you want to come try out his new cinema surround sound system with him. United once indulged him, presenting the world record holder with a personalised shirt pitch-side, and now Bolt won’t leave them alone until he has played a game for them. They might have to bring him on as a substitute for the final few minutes of a cup match just to get rid of him.
Then there was Prime Minister David Cameron who attempted to make himself seem like more of a real life human being by claiming to be a West Ham fan. The problem was that he forgot that he had previously stated himself to be an Aston Villa fan. Don’t worry, Dave. They wear the same colours, so that pretty much makes them the same club. Easy mistake to make.
Every club has one, a celebrity fan who is seen wearing a shirt or a scarf from time to time. Perhaps football is now just a part of the celebrity scene in the same way American sports like basketball and American football is. Maybe Barcelona will have a Bieber day in the same way NBA team the Toronto Raptors recently had a Drake night.
With the Premier League and European football now such a global product it’s unsurprising that celebrities have taken an interest in it. Clubs should probably start making snapback caps with their badges on, because if there’s one thing the celebrification of Americans sport has taught us it’s that there’s always money to be made out of selling snapback hats off the back of it. Bieber wants a Barca one...