South Africa, World Cup Nr. 2

Up shockingly early today, although not surprising considering I more or less collapsed before even 11 pm last night. Finding myself with a bit more free time than usual, opportunity for a small update. For the many of you with short attention spans, well lead with pictures…

Peace to the cottage, War to the Palace! Our home in South Africa…somewhat cold at night, but at least well decorated. The red/black banner is from „Defensores de Belgrano,“ another Buenos Aires third division club. A rather violent rivarly in real life.

Some images from Argentina – Nigeria…

Notice the large yellow and gold banner, and the small Atlanta emblem next to it. Lower tier, on the right…another Atlanta emblem.

Independiente fans, trip financed by the Argentine government, one of over forty fan groups in „Hinchadas Unidas Argentinas“.

Defensores de Belgrano fans, not part of HUA.

*There is a major conflict between the Argentine press (mainly in the form of Clarin/TyC who lead an anti-government campaign) and the barrabrava/hooligan scene. They have managed to paint it as a new and shocking scandal of epic proportions that hundreds of Argentine barrabravas are at this World Cup. Truth is, with the possible exception of the post-crisis 2002 World Cup, thre has been a very healthy barrabrava presence at all previous World Cups since 1982.

12 barrabravas were denied entry into South Africa, and there have been several „incidents“ involving Argentine fans, who seem to have replaced the British in the public eye as the troublemakers (the South African police have already twice made „preventive raids“ against hotels housing Argentine fans). Very many Argentines make their way here with little to no funds, and not few have taken to, much like poor South Africans, selling souvenirs on street corners. Others in Pretoria have started cleaning car windshields at red lights…just like back home. And still others, coming to the conclusion that South Africa is „like Argentina, but African,“ have felt so at home that they robbed a busload of tourists!!

The other great source of conflict is that many of the barrabravas who didnt come as part of „Hinchadas Unidas Argentinas“ (the government funded group) have come all this way…without tickets to the games.

The largest such faction, a group of Boca barrabravas numbering about 80, with ties to Bilardo and Maradona and who call themselves the „official“ Argentina barra, have found themselves ticketless after media pressure forced Bilardo to take distance from them….after they had originally flown on the same plane as the Argentine national team! These fans can now be found just about every day outside the hotels of the Argentine Football Association management trying to exert pressure for tickets.

A similar incident occurred two days ago when San Lorenzo barras (also not in HUA, as their arch enemies from Huracan are) confronted the president of their club outside his hotel demanding tickets. The situation almost ended in blows after he told them he had none for them.

Should these groups also obtain entrance to the stadiums it will be interesting to see if the World Cup peace still holds. On the one hand, HUA and the Boca fans could clash for placement in the Stadium, while San Lorenzo barras are desperate for revenge due to Huracans barrabravas stealing well, look at this video. These are Huracans fans, in Huracans stadium, with an incredible amount of San Lorenzo banners…

*While there are maybe 1.000 barrabravas and „hinchas“ (as in, people who go regularly to the stadium, have banners, are part of the terraces, etc. while not necessarily barrabravas), there are all in all about 10 000 Argentines here, and many of them have been very much influenced by the media campaign, so the relationship between both sides is not the best.This leads to a further annoying phenomenon of the World Cup…rich Argentines who otherwise never set foot in a football stadium. They come here, expect everybody to sit down during the games, and generally have no concept of stadium culture or passion. During the first game, a huge fight almost erupted because one of these fools *called the cops* because a group of fans in the front wasnt sitting down.

*Speaking of annoying…if you are all complaining about the vuvuzelas because you have to hear them on TV…please imagine this phenomenon ALL day, with people blowing them in your ears, and no possibility of turning down the volume. A nightmare! Furthermore, it really takes away from the emotion of the game. On the one hand you cant experience the ups and downs of a football game, since all you hear is a constant drone. It also makes it impossible to decipher if fans of other teams are singing or not, and it makes singing in the stadium also quite difficult, as unless hundreds have already joined in, its impossible to hear whats being sung 20 meters away.

*That said, aside from Argentine barras/hooligans/hinchas there truly doesnt seem to be much fan culture or „real“ fans here. Mainly what we run into is stupid hat wearing drunken tourists who use the World Cup as an excuse to drink. That said, we dont really have a full picture here, since we havent left Johannesburg yet, so maybe in other cities its different. Starting to doubt it though.





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