Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Football Cities: Buenos Aires

Passion for football doesn’t really get any more intense than in Argentina, and Buenos Aires is at the beating heart of it all. The city has more football teams than any other and rivalries make certain areas pretty combustible places when two big teams lock horns and both sets of fans form huge swarms of flag waving, whistle blowing, confetti throwing armies!

Football here is important; it is one of the few things that can bring such unbridled joy to so many people in times of political and economic turmoil. The biggest teams in town are River Plate, Boca Juniors and Vélez Sársfields and these are followed by huge amounts of passionate supporters depending on the area of the city they live. In fact, it is said that over half the country supports either Boca Juniors or River Plate such is their history and success.

Derbies between Boca and River are called the Superclásico and tickets are like gold dust with locals queuing outside the stadiums for an age in order to guarantee their attendance. The importance of this game cannot be underestimated and its effects have been soaked up into the local culture. An example of this would be that after such games street signs cover the city of Buenos Aires with humorous jokes about the losing team. At the games themselves there are fireworks, confetti, flags and riots within the stadiums as the stands actually bounce to the rhythm of the jumping fans! 

River Plate (Los Millonarios) is actually a giant sports club in the area of Núnez whose most successful team is the soccer team. Rivers home ground is the 65,000 capacity Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti (El Monumental) which is also used by the national team and played host to the 1978 World Cup finals. One of Americas most successful teams the club has won countless titles and cups and their rivalry with Boca Juniors is known the world over due to the intensity and drama of their games. Ticket prices vary depending on the opposition but you can expect to pay in the region of €40.

Boca Juniors (Los Xeneizes – to do with the clubs Italian founders) is the other giant club of Buenos Aires and the second half to the Superclásico alongside River Plate. Boca Junoirs play their games at the Estadio Alberto J. Armando (La Bombonera) which crams over 57,000 fans onto some of the steepest terraces known to mankind! The area that Boca Juniors calls home is the neighbourhood of La Boca which is a mostly working class society compared to the Los Millionarios of River Plate. The club is also one of the worlds most successful teams and some fans devote their entire life to the club, even being buried in the official Boca Juniors cemetery! Tickets for games are around the €40 mark. 

Vélez Sarsfields (El Fortín) may not be as widely known as River Plate or Boca Juniors but they still have a massive support and are a good option if you can’t get tickets for the bigger two teams! Their stadium is the Estadio José Amalfitani (rugby fans may also know this as the home to the national rugby team) which has a capacity of 49,000 people. Situated in the west of the city in the suburb of Liniers the club doesn’t actually have any close rivals yet success in recent times has ensured large crowds and good football! Tickets will set you back around €30.


For information on the best places to stay in Buenos Aires check out http://www.hostels.com/ar.bu.html 

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