Forest and I went to the game with a huge group of other gringos - an entire tour bus full of Australians, Dutch, Germans, Canadians, English, Swedes, and a few other Americans. It turned out to be a very fun and spirited young crowd to go with, but nothing compared to what we witnessed inside the stadium.
|Moat with barbed wire surrounding the field|
Soccer is more than a pastime for Argentinians - as evidenced by the popular slogan "Futbol es Vida" - and apparently brawls are quite common between fans of opposite sides here. As such, the home fans all sit in the same sections and have to arrive almost two hours before the game so as to reduce the risk of violence once the away fans are allowed in the area (about half an hour before the game). The away fans had their own section as well, of course, and they were not hesitant to make their presence known - in fact they kept up a ear-splitting ruckus throughout the entire game. The interesting thing about the away crowd though was that they maintained maximum volume throughout the entire match, creating the odd effect of not being able to determine based on crowd reaction whether a call was for or against their team.
The section we were in was quite obviously the "tourist/families with young children" section. Surrounded by police in riot-gear with shotguns on both sides, followed by fences topped with barbed wire, an empty section with more police, and another fence with more barbed wire, we served as a pretty efficient buffer between the home crowd and the away crowd, and there was very little risk of intermingling.
Bocas, the away team, ended up winning 1 - 0. The Bocas fans nearly brought the stadium down with their raucous cheering - we could actually feel the cement underfoot rocking back and forth at several points during the game.
Afterwards the Bocas crowd had to exit before anyone else was let out. And of course, having won, they stayed and rocked the stadium for a good half hour after the final whistle - the home fans had no choice but to sit and take it as the Bocas loyal rubbed it in their faces. Finally the police ousted them and they all left on two enormous open wagons, escorted by more police on horseback.We got back to our hostel at 2 A.M., just as most porteños were heading to the clubs to begin their Saturday night.