The Argentina Soccer Game Experience Might be More than you Bargained for

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Fans or Argentine Soccer team River PlatePouring rain. A chilly 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Sandwiched between thousands of other cold, soaked to the bone people as you are herded into the stadium. Forced to stand for two hours as the wind whips past you. Sounds like a terrible experience, right? WRONG, VERY WRONG.

A soccer game in Buenos Aires on a NICE day :)

Although all of these aspects were uncomfortable, the River Plate versus San Lorenzo soccer game that I attended in Buenos Aires could not have been a more magical and amazing experience. Now let me preface this by saying that I am a diehard sports fan. Yes, I will even watch golf happily if the opportunity presents itself. My account of this experience is definitely not the same recap that some of my “less-sporty” friends remembered about our frigid, wet, Argentina soccer experience.

After a 30 minute colectivo ride to the outskirts of one of the northernmost neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, Nuñez, I made my way into a jam-packed line of what seemed like thousands of River Plate fans while we waited to enter the stadium. Now “waiting” in an Argentine soccer crowd is a lot different than any other “waiting” experience I have ever had. “Waiting” involved jumping up and down and chanting River Plate team songs for about an hour and a half, while every few minutes the herd would push forward and literally carry the pack about 10 meters until we were all back on our own two feet and chanting again.

Eventually, due to unknown circumstances, the game had started but we were still trapped outside the stadium with a drove of rowdy fans. Naturally, our “waiting” chants then began to focus (not so kindly) on the line of policemen in full riot-gear that were trying to keep this mob from becoming…well…a mob. Finally, enough time had passed, and we had moved forward enough 10 meter increments and were inside the ticketing gates only about 20 minutes into the first half. After the 5 minute run up what seemed like 20 flights of stairs to the general admission section, my group of 7 people squeezed our way into about a 10 foot wide section of concrete and declared it our “seats” for the game.

Some more fans climbing the fences.Like “waiting,” the term “seats” is also loosely defined. In fact, we didn’t sit down once during the next hour and a half. Instead, the chants that we had been swept up in outside the stadium continued to be sung non-stop by tens of thousands of people. This was an amazing spectacle to see and hear. Every goal or tackle or pass seemed to set the crowd into a beautifully synchronized rendition of one of the many River Plate songs, complete with hand motions and choreographed bobbing.

Eventually the game had ended in a landslide as River won 5-0, and we waited the obligatory 30-45 minutes for the opposing fans to exit the stadium safely (this is a standard practice that has become a necessity as soccer hooliganism is very common in Argentina). As we stumbled and pushed and tried our hardest to avoid being trampled on our way out of the stadium, I marveled at what a great sporting event I had just witnessed. I can honestly say that I have never been in such an energized crowd in my entire life; and I have been to countless professional football, basketball, and baseball games, a Real Madrid soccer game, the NCAA college basketball final four and finals, as well as a major league baseball playoff game.

The Estadio Monumental of River Plate in Buenos AiresFor me, this regular season Argentine soccer game was a dream. For many of my friends, it was a cold, wet nightmare. I strongly urge every person who is thinking about going to a soccer game in Buenos Aires to consider how much of a sports fan you really are. If the answer is that you are a casual fan who “kind of likes watching games on television” then diving into professional Argentine soccer may not be a great experience. However, if your idea of a good time is seeing top athletes play their hearts out to the delight of thousands of wild and crazy fans, then soccer in Buenos Aires is paradise.


anon on April 3, 07

Its FOOTBALL not soccer

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Zach on June 8, 08

Wow I am absolutely so Jealous. I grew up in BA till I was 10 and I miss it sooo much. GO RIVER PLATE!

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Santiago on October 2, 08

Yep, it’s pretty much like that. A blasting, terrific experience. I only went to a few games – and not so exciting like yours: Remember you went to see a classic duel – and I still remember each of them…

And that “conceptual looseness” (seats, waiting) is a part of Buenos Aires itself. It’s in our DNA.

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Kenzo in BA on April 10, 09

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jorginho on May 3, 09

And furthermore since when is temperature measured in Fahrenheit in Argentina?

It’s more like 15 degrees Celsius.

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