Things I learnt about futbol in Argentina by going to a match (Newell’s Old Boys/Rosario vs Olimpia/Paraguay) and talking to people about it.
*These photos come courtesy of Andres’ phone, because before we left his place to walk to the stadium he saw my bag and was like “You’re taking that?” and I was like “Yeah I need my camera” and he was like “Do you still want your camera?” Great pics though, thanks Andres!
- Newell’s claim to fame at the moment is that it’s Lionel Messi’s home team.
- Everything you’ve heard or read about futbol in Argentina is true.
- The concrete stands will and do shake under the weight of 30 000 devotees. (“Fans” and “spectators” don’t cut it.) Apparently the buildings around the stadium shake, too.
- They don’t allow alcohol on or around the grounds. Smart.
- The police presence is something else. Full riot gear.
- The roar of 30 000 devotees (to be fair, roughly 100 of them were there in support of the Paraguayan opposition … shem) when a goal is scored creates a long moment of sonic levitation. Slow-motion and everything. The contrasting silence that accompanies a goal by the opposition is eerie and bizarre and pretty hard to wrap your head around.
- Those giant flags that cover the whole stand are very real and very awesome! Bucketlist item checked.
- There’s no timer or scoreboard, at least not at the stadium I was at. People are way too focused for that. On futbol, that is.
- Powerbalance bracelets are still a thing here.
- Futbol time is not funtime. Devotees won’t make small talk with you or even say hello, or at least give you the once over as they almost always do, when they’re at a game.
- I saw roughly 10 Newell’s tattoos in my immediate vicinity.
- They actually pray and kiss the crosses around their necks and whisper sweet nothings into the sky before penalty shootouts (am I saying that right?) and (short?) corners.
- There is some kind of paint war going on all around Rosario between rival teams NOB (hehehe) and Central. Lampposts and pavements are painted in black and red for NOB (hehehehehe) and then painted over with yellow and blue for Rosario Central, or vice versa. These are the two big rival teams here.
- Futbol ain’t no joke, OK, so don’t try to appeal to people’s senses of humour about it. It’s a deeply personal matter with absolutely no rational foundation. I visited an island one Friday and told a guy there that my flatmate Andres was a Newell’s devotee and the dude actually made the gun-gesture and pointed it at Andres’ imaginary head! Intense! Fede’s advice is to pick a team from out of town, because you can’t go the Switzerland route either.
Check out this video from the game! We were on the upper stand behind the goal post on the right. The flag comes down at about 3:00.