I’m not a big football fan as most of you will know, but yesterday I went to see Boca Juniors play at La Bombonera in southern Buenos Aires. It was an organised trip, we got picked up, taken to a bar for beer and pizza and then onto the match. I was perfectly calm about it until the morning when I was talking to an Australian couple who had been to the big derby there against arch-rivals River Plate last year (admittedly the match I was going to see was a lot less important) and frankly I started to get a little worried. Firstly the terraces are near vertical, the away fans are put in the terraces above where the tour puts you. And they like to piss on the terrace below (containing us). Not just a little tinkle, but bottles of the stuff. But it’s OK they said, just stand at the back. Yeah, you and 30000 others sheltering from torrents of warm Argentinian urine. Then they set fire to toilet rolls and throw them down, and at the end they throw the seats over the top.
So it was with not a little trepidation that we approached the place, which is a stadium in the old tradition, smack bang in the middle of the working class area of town, surrounded by residential streets. We were told to keep out tickets in our pockets and anyone who had a lighter was to put it in their shoe, otherwise security would confiscate it. The stands were already packed when we got there an hour before kick-off and we managed to squeeze ourselves into a spot on the terrace as the start approached.
The hardcore fans were in the stand opposite us and about 10 minutes before kickoff they unfurled a banner that covered the entire stand from top to bottom, must have been 200m wide. Don’t have any pictures as I didn’t want my camera nicked. But you can get an idea of the thing here. The match itself was full of action, but a bad day for Boca as they lost 3-2. The little stocky Argentinian next to me kept slapping me on the shoulder every time Velez got close to scoring, and then sitting down in despair, rubbing his head for a couple of seconds, then standing back up and screaming at the ref. After it was all over we had to wait a while to be let out, but we all got out safe and sound, and more importantly dry. People nearer the front weren’t so lucky.