Sunday, April 19

Super Clásico Bros.

Much like college football, the rivalries here in Argentina are the most important games of the year. Each team has their counterpart who the fans hate with all of their soul. Win your rivalry match and the season is a success. Lose, and it is a failure. For many fans, even the championship is secondary. The whole country turns its attention to the rivalry or clásico in a given week. And no clásico matches the fervor of Boca/River.The Boca Juniors are the most popular team in Argentina - one of the most popular in the world. Diego Maradona, despite getting his start as an Argentino Junior, will always be associated with Boca, having played the majority of his career there. They sport a rather fetching combination of Yellow and Blue, originally chosen due to a ship from Sweden. No joke. One could even call the yellow "maize" (although corn here is referred to only as choclo). Rival fans refer to them as Los Bosteros, meaning "manure handlers", but of course they were able to make the nickname a point of pride. Perhaps it's like the "Bug Eaters" in Nebraska, but I have to review my 'Husker lore. Traditionally, Boca appealed to the more blue-collar citizenry, though times have changed and the identities are not so clear cut anymore.
Photo by Fabián Marelli, La Nacion
River Plate is the only team that can remotely challenge Boca's popularity. Originally, the two clubs were both centered in the city's Boca neighborhood, but in 1923, River moved to the more affluent (and safer) Nuñez area. Their stadium is the largest in the country. Fans of other teams often point out that the army built the stadium for them, but this often comes off as "stadium envy." When that doesn't work, they call them the Gallinas. This literally means "hens", but is of course calling them chickens. But of course female chickens. While in the past, River drew the more wealthy crowd, that, too has changed and there have been some rather dangerous and wild incidents at their stadium.
Photo by Mauro Alfieri, La Nacion
I made several efforts to obtain tickets to the Boca vs. River match today, but was unable to find one for less than 600 pesos. It was a gorgeous day, the first really cool one we've had this autumn (yes, it's autumn here - south of the equator and all). Unwilling to pay the same as the tourists, I had to resort to internet viewing. It really tamped down the intensity, particularly since nobody scored in the first half. But the second provided more excitement. When Boca took the lead on the left foot of Martín Palermo, people all over my neighborhood hollered "Gooooool! Gooool!!" Horns were honked. River countered just minutes later off a booming free kick that zoomed past the keeper. My neighborhood erupted again, though the noise came from a completely different set of people.
English highlights can be found here, but I think you'll agree the announcers are far too polite.

And that's where things ended. Maybe ending in a tie is still like kissing your sister, but they're certainly more accustomed to it here. And considering there are no playoffs unless there's a tie in the season's final standings (and you think the BCS is frustrating - that's a whole other blog post), they won't likely play each other again until the next season. But if you think about it, it will only make the next one that much more important. At least Boca won't get voted out of going to the Rose Bowl. I hope to get to some more games soon, but Boca River may have to wait until I get some sort of promotion or commit to a team so I can get season tickets. For now, it was an exciting day that the entire city paid attention to, the closest thing they have to a Super Bowl.

1 comment:

Josh said...

A super bowl you couldn't watch live unless you went to a bar or paid to watch it in your own home...I turned on the television and got amazing views of the home crowd reacting to the action taking place below, but no game. Needless to say I was disappointed and decided to take a nap.

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