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Racing vs San Lorenzo, Tonight 01:20

San Lorenzo, also supposedly one of the „big“ five. But really, how „big“ are you if you got kicked out of your hood because a company bought your stadium and now there is a supermarket on it? Or if you are the only team of the big five whose derby *isnt* against another of the big five? Or if your archrival goes into your clubhouse and steals ALL your banners?! Or if you never won an international tournament?

Not very. And Im only not making fun of them for going down to second division because this happened to Racing as well….

Racing has 6 points from 6, best start since 2004, and the stadium is going to be incredibly full tonight. Excitement very.

Random video, this time just of a San Lorenzo goal from last season…

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:




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