As a kid and a teenager, I used to be an anti-Madridista. I used to hate Real Madrid with all my soul and never really bothered explaining what exactly makes me hate them.
With time, I've started to learn more about them, to make friends with different people who love that club for this or that reason. This changed my mind and I learned to respect their club more.
There are plenty of other Cules who would only say a bad word about Real Madrid, say, during El Clasico. The game is over and everyone respects each other again.
This is absolutely fine. The problem is – it is quite difficult to find a Madridista who would actually pay respect to Barcelona. These people exist, for sure, but it's incredibly tough to find such fans.
One day, I realised that abusing/mocking/trolling Barcelona is a common thing for almost every fan base of every big club in the world, even though the Catalans themselves could boast about one of the biggest fan bases in football.
How and why did this happen? Let's analyse the reasons.
1. Reputation for invincibility
Barcelona are in a transition period, something the club haven't experienced for quite a long time.
But why do people first name Barca when it comes to listing underperforming teams? Clearly, because we have recently been as massive as no one else.
"Love to see everyone hate on Barca. Shows how massive we are, and how everyone wants to see us fall."
Pep Guardiola's, Tito Vilanova's and Luis Enrique's times set the club's standards at a height that barely will be reached by big European clubs in the next few decades. Defeating Barcelona in a single match, no matter what the competition is, was a huge achievement for every club in the world – and it's finally no longer the case as we are now beatable and vulnerable.
Non-Barca fans got so annoyed to see Blaugrana's domination in the world of football that they simply want to get the most out of our transition phase.
2. 'Diver club' label
I'm sure you've all seen these pics before.
All of them are at least 4-5 years old, yet we are still called a 'diver' club by many.
While some people call the 2010s Barca side generational, others are quick enough to remind that some of those players, like Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, were quite good at drawing non-existent fouls.
Time has passed, the squad has changed, yet some people are still mad at those rare but viral episodes.
3. 'Boring' style of play
Neutral fans often didn't enjoy watching the prime Barca play, calling their patient ball control 'boring' and 'unwatchable'.
"Love the way Bayern play football, much quicker than Barca in their prime which was so boring to watch. So slow. Hate that type of football. Don't get me wrong it's the most effective one but it's dull." (2013)
It is difficult to believe me, but at the time, I actually saw a few comments like 'Barca deserved to lose – their opponent played attack-minded football that was far more attractive than Barca's'.
Well, if running into rapid counterattacks 4-5 times per game means 'attack-minded football' and you don't appreciate the team chemistry created by Pep Guardiola's side, your favourite player shall be Adama Traore!
4. Refereeing controversies
The Champions League encounter of 2009 between Chelsea and Barcelona is often called the biggest robbery in football.
When non-Barca fans are reminded of the Catalans' 2009 treble, some of them say: "It wouldn't have happened if Barca hadn't paid Ovrebo [the referee who officiated the Chelsea game at Stamford Bridge]."
I have a Chelsea fan who reminds me of that fixture every time we recall the greatest matches between the Blues and the Catalans.
What is my reply? Easy. First of all, Ovrebo's refereeing was so poor that night that he made mistakes in favour of both Barcelona and Chelsea. Secondly, few people seem to have watched the first leg of that encounter (it finished 0-0) in which Barca were robbed of a penalty and a red card for a Chelsea player.
The replays show quite clearly that there was a sort of contact between Marquinhos and Suarez. The rest is Deniz Aytekin's decision – blame him, blame Ovrebo but why blame Barca?!
5. Leo Messi
No Messi = no Barca.
This is according to lots of lots of neutral supporters who insisted that Lionel Messi was the only one to carry that 'ordinary' Barca side with no real talents.
"Foden would be Barcelona's best player since Messi."
Besides, Messi alone is widely hated on social media: because he 'stole Ballon d'Ors from Ronaldo, Ribery and Sneijder', because he 'is not a real leader, unlike Ronaldo', because he is a 'one-club man who would flop in the Premier League', because he is 'ugly and doesn't look like a real athlete', and so on and so forth.
Being a fan of Messi means being a Barca fan too. Hating Messi means hating Barca too. Unfortunately, this is what it is usually.
The bigger club is, the more haters it has. It is as simple as this.
Even while facing complicated times, Barcelona remain one of the biggest clubs in the world with their enormous fan base, brand value and potential. This is why it is still hated a lot, even though the real reasons behind this hate are no longer relevant.