Monday, 25 November 2013

Soccer in South America

Admittedly, I'm not the biggest soccer fan in the world, but I do enjoy a good footy match from time to time.  For the past several years I have cheered the efforts of the Argentina soccer team, thereby shaming my father for not supporting the team of our heritage.  Soccer can make some people so touchy.  

At a dinner party you should never discuss religion, politics or SOCCER unless of course you want to entice a riot in your dining room, but that's your business.  You've been warned.  This is especially true in South America where allegiance to a team is passed down through a family's lineage like genetic code.  I had to experience the soccer madness for myself so while in Buenos Aires I arranged to see a match between Estudiantes and River Plate.    

I was nervous to try and navigate the notoriously raucous soccer scene on my own so I signed up with Tangol tours to have them do the dirty work for me.  Santiago picked me up at my hotel, we scooped up a few others and off we went to the River Plate stadium.   We were dropped off a few blocks away from the stadium as the area is blocked off from traffic for a giant tailgate party.  There is no drinking in the stadium, so spectators congregate outside the stadium before game time to get their party on.  
As I was a lone female heading into a space mainly dominated by testosterone amplified by soccer fever, Santiago kept a close eye on me and was careful not to let the group get too far.  In a crowd of 75,000 people it would be easy to get lost or carried away.   

The energy in the stadium was unbelievable. The cheering ceased only long enough for the anthem and then the crowd roared once more.  From the moment the team entered the stadium till the time we got back into our van the chanting, singing and shouting did not waver.   We had great seats only two rows up from the home team's bench so we were able to get a good look and really immerse ourselves in the experience.  

The home team won that night.  Here's a snippet of how things looked and sounded from where I was sitting.  Note the sparkle in the eyes of the River Plate fan on my right.