Boca Wins!

The smoke has cleared, my allergies are lifting, and I’m high from the crazy energy of a live fútbol game at La Bombonera, where the Boca Juniors just beat Maracaibo from Venezuela. Tonight’s game was kind of a big deal as part of the Copa Libertadores. Their win, and another game tonight in Chile that ended in a tie, means they’re on to the quarterfinals, and everyone was thrilled. Of course they won the Copa last year, so it was probably a given they would win tonight.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a professional soccer game in any country, but going to a Boca game in Buenos Aires is a pretty big deal. They are known to have some of the craziest, most loyal fans, and a good team to boot. I can hardly describe the energy—and the noise!—in the stadium. The most hyper fans were sitting behind the goal closest to us, and I don’t think they stopped singing/shouting and jumping up and down and pumping their arms at all the whole time we were there. There were drums, and firecrackers—the smoke was so thick at one point it was hard to see the ball on the field—and banners practically half the size of the field, unfurled over the top of the stands, one proclaiming “You can imitate us but you can never equal us.” The screeching whistle sound they use against the other team made it sound like we were in a cave full of bats, the sound echoing off the stadium walls. The fans in the “good” section where we were, high up in the vertigo-inducing stands, were a little more serious and actually quieted down to concentrate on the game now and then. But any little action on the field and they were shouting and (if there was a goal scored) hugging each other, or shouting and (if the team or the ref did something they didn’t like) throwing their hands in the air, and often jumping in on the songs coming from both ends of the stadium. I didn’t understand all the shouts, but I did catch enough to know I’ve probably never heard so much cursing in my life—the guy behind us was so emphatic we felt his spit raining down on us. And one of the songs said something like “I’ve been with Boca since the cradle,” which gives you just a hint of how fervent these fans are. It’s impossible not to get caught up in the excitement, and I was pumping my arms, clapping my hands, and pounding the seat when they screwed up, just like everyone else. At the end as everyone was celebrating and slowly filing out (or staying and partying), I felt the concrete stands gently swaying beneath me.

Despite some of the rumors I’ve heard about the games, and being in the serious minority as a woman (I’d guess no more than 1 percent of the crowd was female), I felt really comfortable where we were—though I was awful glad we weren’t in the hooligan-filled mosh pits that were the cheap seats. We went with a tour, which felt pretty cheesy, and didn’t get us as much “tour” as we expected in terms of insider info, etc., but it was handy to not have to wait in line to get tickets, and to have a van waiting for us afterwards instead of trying to find a cab or bus in all the craziness. I’m so glad I finally got to be part of this very Argentine experience!


One Response to “Boca Wins!”

  1. Mia Says:

    Cool! Sounds even crazier than the Leeds United games I went to as a kid with the British branch of my family. The fans there are hard-core, but they show it less by swearing and more by wearing their teams’ uniforms all the time (home and away).

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