Archiv der Kategorie 'Only in Argentina'

Argentina Legalizes Equal Marriage Rights („Gay Marriage“)

Argentina yesterday became the first Latin American country to legalize gay marriage, or to better phrase it „guarantee equal rights to marriage to all its citizens“. Clearly, this is positive in that it eliminates this aspect of sexuality based discrimination. That said, its the acquisition of a right which it would be great if less people made use of in general.

Regardless, if the Argentine Catholic church is against it, chances are Im for it. And thousands of people in front of the congress in Buenos Aires yesterday chanting „IGLESIA, BASURA, VOS SOS LA DICTADURA“ (Church, Garbage, you are/represent the dictatorship) was certainly the smile of my day. Less pleasant of course the stream of reactionary bile spewed forth by obscurantists of all kinds yesterday as a result of the passing of the law. Particularly unpleasant…Catholic schools even urged their students to go to congress and protest, not counting their absence as a day away from school.

South Africa World Cup Nr. 5: Pictures, Problems with Independiente Hools, Encounters with Pigs, Life in the Lap of Luxury, and more…

Two days straight cold and cloudy here, so again enough time to work and blog, so here is a small photo report with accompanying commentary.

*As previously mentioned, Argentine hools of all shapes and colors here. I get the impression that from most any and every Argentine club regardless of how big or small, except Racing and Atlanta. All told maybe 10 Atlanta fans, and isolated Racing fans every now and then. Our arch rivals on the other hand, Independiente and All Boys, its more like this:

In the pictures you can also see hooligans from other „Hinchadas Unidas“ teams, such as Quilmes, Almirante Brown, and Colon.

Between the two of them, they are maybe around 70-80 people. Sometimes its unpleasant, as this video shot right after taking these pictures shows:

The Independiente fan in the white shirt comes up to me, and closes the zipper on my jacket, because I am wearing a Racing jersey. Immediately after you hear a second voice, from another Independiente fan, asking „what is he wearing under that?,“ in not the best tone of voice. Seeing the big potential for trouble here, I chose to end the video and discreetly extract myself from the situation.

(In the video, they are chanting to the press about „were not leaving South Africa, come and kick us out,“ in reference not only to the deportations, but also that over 100 „Hinchadas Unidas“ barras have already returned to Argentina. Depending on who you choose to believe, either because this was the plan all along, or because they are unhappy with how the more influential clubs such as Independiente and Huracan are dividing the tickets and money.)

A further negative consequence of the large Independiente hooligan presence here, is that it seems that this has inspired lots of other „regular“ Independiente fans to travel as well, as I sometimes have the impression that Im standing in their terrace rather than a World Cup game. Unpleasant.

Otherwise we have cordial to good relations with barras and hinchas from a wide mix of other teams, but we all choose to keep a prudent distance from the large groups of „Hinchadas Unidas“ hooligans.

*The „hottest“ rivarly of the World Cup is definitely the one between the hooligans of San Lorenzo and Huracan. Huracans hools are one of the main players in „Hinchadas Unidas,“ so they are here very well protected. San Lorenzos barras have come on their own (or via their club), numbering about 15. I had commented on the potential for trouble should these two meet in an earlier post (you can read the post, as well as see a video of Huracan barras with a terrace full of San Lorenzo banners
here), and this was almost the case at the game against Greece.

As we were entering the stadium we noticed the San Lorenzo barras just standing around right after the security checkpoint. We asked what they were doing, and the answer couldnt have been clearer: „Were waiting for the Huracan people, were going to kill them.“ We bought hot dogs, placed ourselves at a prudent distance, and waited for the show. Sadly, they didnt come, we got bored, and moved along.

Once inside the stadium though we were treated to a show worthy of an action movie. In one corner of the stadium the Huracan fans, and in the middle of the stadium the San Lorenzo fans…and us more or less right in the middle. The gestures and signals they were making back and forth to each other were fascinating and terrifiying, especially considering that they were coming from people who are more than willing and capable of backing up their threats (clashes between the two have already left several people dead in the last few years). „All your banners are at my house, come and get them,“ or „please, please, please wait for us outside…well kill you all,“ were probably the nicest things that were said.

In the end everybody behaved, as is most often the case at the World Cup, because nobody wants to get in trouble and miss it. The worrying part (for us as well, in what refers to our issues with the Independiente and All Boys fans) is what may happen when and if Argentina should be eliminated and there is nothing more to lose.

*Tigre hooligans, also one of the biggest groups here, as photo and video show:

*Team coming onto the field against Mexico. Not nearly the same as in Argentina, but not bad considering the security.

*The glorious „Vida Bohemia“ banner, at its second World Cup.

Hanging the banner is a very complicated and frustrating experience, as the idiotic regulations of FIFA coupled with the overzealous South African police mean that we are constantly getting hassled because of the banners being too large, too long, blocking a logo, and so forth. The cops are then very quick to get aggressive with people. The pig who can be seen at the bottom left of this picture, together with three of his friends, even went so far as to *arrest* the person with the banner next to ours for it being too long and him not removing it fast enough. This despite that it was TWO banners, cut in the middle, both making one message.

There is a general bad predisposition towards Argentine „hinchas,“ which I think is a combination of FIFA regulations, cultural problems, and the smear campaign of the Argentine press painting everybody who doesnt watch the game wearing an Argentina shirt and sittting down as a troublemaker. There is constant trouble about sitting down, not standing on the seats, banners, flags, us not leaving the stadium fast enough, you name it. There was even an article yesterday in the newspaper titled „Cops Get Tough with Argentine Fans.“ Highlight: „These people need to understand that they cant get away with the same things in South Africa than they do in Argentina.“

*Which brings us to our next point, encounters with the local fauna. Besides the run ins with hyenas and monkeys which Ive already written about, we have had three separate encounters with the local variety of a species known worldwide for its aggressiveness and general unpleasantness…pigs in uniform.

Fortunately, the local variety is similar to that of Argentina, and probably most other poor and underdeveloped countries, and we havent yet encountered a situation which we couldnt resolve either with a friendly contribution to their lunch money, or pity stories of poor South American tourists. Regardless, still not enjoyable experiences, as we have been threatened with exorbitant fines or jail sentences (Ive lost track of how often Ive heard the sentence „we must arrest you now“ in the last few weeks) for driving too fast, exiting Kruger National Park too late (I even really, truly, with a straight face argued that jiraffes and elephants were blocking our way, causing our delay!), drinking alcohol on the street, refusing to sit down, refusing to leave the stadium, and so forth.

*One of the few moments we can „be as we are,“ is when exiting the stadium. Usually this involves an hour or two of something like this:

*We dont forget about England or Brazil. Big disappointment that we wont be encountering the English. I wont translate this banner, google it if you must know:

And of course, Brazil. „Whats your problem Brazil, nervous?“

In a few hours we leave for Cape Town. We may be dirt poor, but at least we hide it pretty damned well! This will be our home over there. A bit outside the city, but for the price of a Formula 1 Hotel in Europe:

South Africa World Cup Nr. 4: Interview with Hinchadas Unidas Argentinas about Repression in South Africa and Video of the „Disturbances“

Almost 4 am, still awake, unable to sleep due to pre-game excitement (as usual), and have to be waking up in about 5 hours. We took it easy today, but its been a pretty agitated day in Pretoria with the deportations, raids, and so forth.

For those who dont speak Spanish, the following video is interesting just to see all the banners, flags, etc. of the different Argentine teams in Pretoria. If you do speak spanish, its interesting because they interview some people from Hinchadas Unidas Argentinas who say some pretty logical things about why they are being monitored, harassed, and deported in South Africa. Its then followed by an interview with a police investigator who states, among other things, that the amount of Argentine barras at this World Cup is not particularly higher than in 1998 or 2006 (I respectfully disagree). Otherwise…Argentine is Nr. 1 in the World Cup deportation table! :-)
(And they finally showed the „disturbances“ that led to the 6 30 am police raid and subsequent deportations, and absolute joke. See for yourselves: )

The flight of the Argentine national team to South Africa. Barrabravas included…

Less serious…Argentine fan cleaning windshields to finance his South Africa stay:

South Africa World Cup Nr. 3: More Deportations and Soweto Futbol!

Today the South African cops arrested and deported a further 17 Argentine barrabravas. Apparently, this was for „misbehaving“ during the first game. Interestingly enough, none of the newspapers goes into any further details at all regarding what this „misbehaving“ may have been.

You can read the original article here.

In lighter news, today we spent spreading Latin American magic and talent in a game of street futbol with the local kids in Soweto! Sorry, no pictures for the public. :-)

PS At the entrance to the, very appropriately named, „The Shack“ bar in Soweto…

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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