Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Futbol es Vivir

So last year when i was here in Buenos Aires for the winter/summer i made a list of things that i had to do before i left. I was able to accomplish most of the goals (Play guitar in the park for money, Learn to Tango, Learn to make Empanadas from scratch, and buy Tango Shoes Etc) One of those goals was the experience one of the things that for these people is life...to see a soccer game. When i first arrived, i told my friend Pablo who is a big fan of the Boca Juniors team that i wanted to see a game. He told me that he would take me before i left to make up the debt he owed me from the first time i came to Argentina in September/October 2008 (He just left my all alone in Paraguay by myself when we were staying together no biggie). We had three months to go and...we never went. So when i came back for the third time this year the first thing i told him after hi was that he owed me a soccer game. So being the good man that he is this last Sunday night we went to the game. Tagging along with us was Jakub (Czeckboy),my roommate Ryan, and three newly arrived Americans from Colorado, Bobie, Tallon, and Diego.

The game we went to see was between Argentino Juniors (The club was originally called the “Martyrs of Chicago”, in homage to the eight anarchists imprisoned or hanged after the 1886 Haymaker Riot in Chicago) and the world famous Boca Juniors. It was played at the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona. The stadium is named after the most famous Argentine soccer play ever Diego Maradona, who started out his career with the Argentino Juniors at 15 before going on to play for many other local teams and leading the Argentina national team to two world cup wins in the eighties. It is located in La Paternal Barrio which is in the center of Buenos Aires about a 20 min bus ride from downtown. It also just so happens that Pablo lives three blocks from the stadium. The Stadium itself is on the smaller side only holding about 25,000. But that is more than enough when you consider that all 25,000 of those people are die hard crazy Argentine soccer fans.

Before hand i had been warned by many of the girls that the game was going to be crazy and that i should not being anything with me that i could not afford to lose. They basically told me i was going to be in a controlled riot. So my expectation of what this event was going to be was quite interesting. However it ended being much more benine than i thought it would be. However i soon learned why. We had bought tickets in the seat section up high. Down on the ground floor is standingroom only. And even at that we were on the Argentino Juniors side. The Argentinos fans are no where near as crazy as the Boca fans. The majority of the people that come to these games are completed insane. For these people this not a sport, but it truly is a religion. You will regularly see people fists clenched in rage, on the knees praying, doing the rosary, and crying tears of joy and of pain...all over who wins the GAME.

Either way it leads to there being quite the atmosphere at the matches. The rivalry between the teams and their fans has lead to in many dangerous incidents in the past. This in turn now has caused their to be a great deal of safety procedures being put in place whenever there is a game. For one thing in every stadium here there sections are split up between home team and
visitor team sections. Meaning that only fans of the same team sit together. The two different fans also have completely different entrances to the stadiums. Also if you think going through airport security is rough, try going through 4 different pat downs by police in full riot gear. On the night of a game the surrounding area is effectively under police control for 3 hours before and after the game. No alcohol is allowed to be sold or served in the restaurants. And all of the streets have police check points that you have to go through, with full pat downs and security checks. And then when the game is over the visitor section is escorted out by the police and out of the neighborhood while the remaining home team fans have to wait (In our case we waited about 20 mins) before they are allowed to exit the stadium.

But after you get through all of that, you get to see the game. Our game was quite an exciting one. Played with a speed and precision that is lost upon me when compared to the best soccer game i had seen previous to this (Which sad to say was one of our games in Ackerman Park on a Saturday afternoon). I could not help but think of the Simpsons where they go to watch a soccer game only to be disappointed by the apperant lack of action http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noOHdTQd6H8 . This however could not have been farther from the truth. The game ended in a tie when Argentino Juniors scored on the last possible chance before the ref blew his whistle and ended the game. 2 to 2 was the final score.

This game was incredible. More impressive than the match itself was the energy in the stadium. You can watch this video which shows how much passion was in the hearts of the fans as they waited for the game to begin. This sound was deafening to say the least. And this video while not doing justice to the feeling that was this game does however provide a brief glimpse into what it was like. The two sets of fans were in constant action for the entire duration of the game. From beginning to end. They both had several drums and other instruments that were used through the whole game to play their teams many many many many many countless songs. They sang and played the entire time. Afterward, we all agreed that the brass section on the Boca side must have lungs of steel to have been able to keep on playing that whole game with fury and passion as they did.

After enjoying the my and the guys went to grab a quick beer, (at 2 in the morning of course we are in Agentina after all) and then made our way home having experienced the fury and passion of these people on a hot summer night in Buenos Aires. A city that has rightly earned the handle "la ciudad de la furia" (The City of Fury).

And more photos...

I named this guy "El Conductor" This toothless crazy old man kept walking up and down the stands getting all of the fans below (and subsequently the whole place) going by starting to sing the various different team songs. Bravo El Conductor.
P.S. This is my favorite shot i took that night.

I was wondering what this huge airbag thing was for since they rolled it out before the game, during half time, and after the game was over. It was only then that i realized that this was meant for the protection of the visiting players. Since the exit to the locker rooms in on the home team side they need to be protected from the fans who might throw things at them.

The start of the game...everyone is pretending to play nice aww...

I would hate to be the guy thats stuck under the flag for the whole game.

Random shot of the park.


  1. Yay! I love all the pictures. I mean, you tell a good story but the old addage is correct: a picture is worth a thousand words.
    Thank you for keeping us so up to date with your life down there. We miss you.

  2. Dominick...Great post. We thought about getting to a game...but it didn't happen. I'm glad you shared this. I felt like I was there.

    I'm glad to be home...but I will miss the adventures in Argentina. I'm looking forward to following your posts. I wish I'd blogged. It keeps a nice record for yourself...and allows your friends to see what you're up to. :)


    Keep up all the great things you're doing there. Especially service and helping at meetings. There is no greater thing.