It has been a week, so I figure that everyone has come out of their food comas after a bountiful Thanksgiving. While you were enjoying turkey and all the fixings, I attended my first Argentine soccer game, a true staple of the Argentine culture.
The game was a Colombian team vs. Tigre in the Copa Suramericana (South American Cup). It was the semi-final round of the tournament, so this game was important. After my frantic plea on Facebook to the swim team, Tango class, and UdeSA exchange students, Daniela (from swimming) invited me to a Tigre game, located near the UdeSA campus. The stadium was packed with emotional fans and a lot of energy. (I shall explain momentarily.) The game ended in a tie (or empatada) 0-0.
Soccer, or better known here as fútbol, brings the word "fanatic" to a whole new level. For these fans, I feel that soccer may be more important to them than water. There was constant screaming, mostly insults towards the referee or other team (which I cannot repeat here). To make them feel even more special, each opposing team has their own, unique insults that refer to the region or team's name and/or history (putear/insultar = to insult). Additionally, there were cheers and chants that the crowd sang in unison to cheer on Tigre. Again, most of the cheers involved a lot of Argentine slang known as Lunfardo. (As a complete language nerd, I read the Argentine slang dictionary at the beginning of the semester...it paid off after this game.)
(PHOTOS COURTESY OF DANIELA)
La Barra is the section shown in this photo. They are the die-hard fans who play music and cheer for the entire game NON-STOP. I kid you not, they only took a break at half time. I was in El Popular, which is a standing section full of crazy fans, but in la barra, they take it further, making them insane.
Daniela lent me her Tigre Jersey to be a true hincha de Tigre (Tigre Fan).
Daniela and I at half time.
Tigre Matadores vs. Colombian Team
Tigre is known as the Matadores, or Killers
At the conclusion of the game, the police are on full alert. The fans of the visiting team are escorted out first and guided a significant distance from the stadium (several kilometers). We had to wait about twenty minutes for the stadium to be clear of the other fans. This is done to prevent fights and brawls among the fans of the two teams. When is comes to soccer, Argentines are extremely passionate. This means they are not politically correct, so insulting their team is just as bad as insulting their mother or sister. They are not afraid to get physical.
I am happy to say I have had this true Argentine experience. Although soccer is not the national sport, it is still important to Argentina. After all, Maradona and current soccer player, Messi, are still well-known internationally! I have never experienced a sporting event like this; it was intense, and I loved every moment!! I am not a big soccer fan in general, but the amount of energy and emotion in that stadium kept me interested the entire time.
I would say, you have not experienced Argentina until you have gone to un partido de fútbol (soccer game).