Argentinians and Fútbol

It’s not news to anyone that Argentinians love fútbol and they are, understandably, excited about the World Cup.  In fact, the first thing I saw as I walked through the doors at the Ezeiza Airport was a spread of Lionel Messi and a the greeting that went something like, “Welcome to the home of the best player in the world…”  Since then, I haven’t really been able to turn anywhere without seeing him on some billboard and advertisements for the World Cup.  I know there is a long standing dispute about which country is crazier for fútbol, Argentina or Brazil… maybe I’ll find out soon.  Just yesterday, I got an early dosage of fútbol celebrations while wandering around the city when fans of one of the largest clubs in Buenos Aires, Club Athlético River Plate, poured onto the streets after the team won the Argentine first-division title.

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I don’t follow Argentinian fútbol extensively, unless Messi is playing (because I’m concerned he might hurt himself and be disqualified from play with FC Barcelona), so I didn’t know if there was some protest or political rally forming.  It was a security guard at the Museum of Public Television (a ‘meh’ museum) who told me I should be careful when I go out to avoid the fans.   It was good of him to give me advice, but I often wish people wouldn’t because now that I am primarily alone I feel obligated to follow it.  Or, at least, partially because the first thing I did when I left the museum was cross the street to where there was a crowd celebrating.  I did get a couple strange looks from people, but I stayed on the periphery the whole time trying to find something interesting.  My luck probably would have been better in the mosh pit of firecrackers and smoke, but it also would have been very difficult to know if anyone started perusing through my backpack.

Club Athlético River Plate fans, Argentina soccer fans, futbol

After sometime I kept walking down Avenida del Libertador, which is flanked by some wonderful parks and plazas, until I was level with Plaza Italia.  There were more revelers around here and a group of guys had climbed onto the large statue of a rider.  Needless to say, at this point I really, really wanted to forget about my ‘better judgement’ and run across the street to scale the statue with them.  Had either of my last traveling companions been with me I think we would have convinced each other it was a great idea.  I debated internally for a long time, and unable to send any message to any friends for advice, I eventually decided against it.  There’s no way to know, but I feel almost certain that the guys would have been more than happy to welcome me atop the statue and the more I think about the more I am inclined to do it in the future — will I get a chance in Brazil? Maybe. Though I’m sure the police there will at least make a show of being more strict;  I saw a pair right next to me and they completely ignored what was happening.  Nothing unusual.

Club Athlético River Plate fans, Argentina soccer futbol fans, climbing statue

So I had to be content with watching the parade of joyous fans marching by, beckoning me to take photos of them and offering drinks, with my feet firmly on the ground.  I wonder how much longer I will be able to quench my impulses because I really did it more for the sake of my camera than myself.

Club Athlético River Plate fans celebrating, Buenos Aires Argentina soccer futbol fansClub Athlético River Plate fans celebrate, Argentinian futbol fans, celebration parade

At least I could still beat Stephen Colbert in Lord of the Rings trivia.

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