Vamo Lo Pibe!
October 10, 2012 4:49 PM   Subscribe

A writer for outside magazine investigates first hand the world of the Argentinian Barra bravas. Argentina's most popular football team Boca Juniors is supported by La Doce, who are known as football's most passionate fans, and also run the underground economy of the stadium. (Boca's players aren't known for being saints either...) In spite of the violence, drugs, poverty, exploitation, and extortion - if you can get a chance to go to La Bombonera, eat a choripan and dare to stand in the populares with La Doce - it can be life changing.
posted by youthenrage (9 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I went to a party (male to female ratio: 100 to 1) and a soccer game broke out.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:52 PM on October 10, 2012

It's certainly an experience that, even as a total non-football fan, you will not forget in a hurry. The Doce end of La Bombonera also claims the largest banner in football which they unfurl about 10 minutes before kickoff.

Whilst the romance of standing with La Doce is no doubt a powerful attraction, realistically it's not going to happen. Outside of packages, where you will not be in the Doce end, but opposite it, it's impossible to get reliable tickets for a Bombonera game. The barra control ticket sales and you need to have some connection there to even get close to a ticket in advance. The only real possibilty therefore is buying a ticket in the street before the game. Every so often I'll hear of an expat who decides he knows enough Spanish and is street-savvy enough to handle this. It rarely ends well. He'll either be sold a ticket for 10 times the face value only to be told at the turnstile it's fake. The guy at the turnstile will then take the ticket, hand it to a mate of his who will then smile nastily at the expat and put it in the turnstile and walk through. Those are the lucky ones. The unlucky ones get everything taken from them at gunpoint. In the street, in front of policemen and thousands of other fans - these people do not fuck around.

Go to a Boca game, it's amazing. Be a tourist, go with a group. Seriously, don't risk any other way.

A journalist friend of mine recently wrote a great article on his blog on the eternal problem of the barra in Argentine football.
posted by jontyjago at 5:56 PM on October 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

Roberto Bolaño wrote a story about Boca hooligans. It was a part of his book Nazi Literature in the Americas (which is an amazing work). Here's an excerpt from the story, which you can read in full in the first link:
1978 was Schiaffino's year of glory. Argentina won the World Cup for the first time and the gang celebrated in the streets, which were transformed for the occasion into a vast parade ground. It was the year of "A Toast to the Boys," an excessive, allegorical poem, in which Schiaffino imagines a country setting forth to meet its destiny, united like one huge soccer gang. It was also the year in which "respectable," "adult" avenues opened up for him: His poem was widely reviewed, and not only in specialist sporting publications. A Buenos Aires radio station offered him a job as a commentator; a newspaper with close links to the government offered him a weekly column on youth issues. Schiaffino accepted all the offers, but before long his impetuous pen had alienated everyone. At the radio station and the newspaper it soon became clear that leading the Boca boys was more important to Schiaffino than being on any payroll. Broken ribs and windows resulted from the conflict, and the first in a long series of prison terms.
posted by Kattullus at 6:24 PM on October 10, 2012

Huh. At RFK stadium (which is like a three-minute walk from my house) the passionate die-hard bleacher-shaking United fans sit in the "Barra Brava" section. They are fun. They are also like a more low-key version of everything this story describes.

(fun fact: google translate knows enough idioms to translate "barra brava" as "hooligan.")
posted by Navelgazer at 7:01 PM on October 10, 2012

Once again Outside magazine runs the kind of sports feature that Sports Illustrated gave up on a long time ago.
posted by thecjm at 7:28 PM on October 10, 2012

The only supporters' clubs I've witnessed in action first hand are the two Galaxy clubs. They are lots of fun. I'm not sure the barra look like a lot of fun to me.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:05 PM on October 10, 2012

Jontyjago - I had a connection in the barrabravo (he actually couldn't personally escort us to the game because his particular 12° faction was out of favor) he hooked us up and we avoided getting robbed inside or outside the stadium. We were however offered lines of cocaine straight off the concrete bleachers of the populares, beaten by police outside of a racing game because a racing fan had been stabbed a block away, and our bus was attacked traveling through an "enemy" barrio with rocks and bottles. I can't justify the violence on any logical level and in spite of the fact that I dont really follow any sports I fucking love boca jrs. I can't remember lyrics from songs I truly love and I can sing most of the boca songs.

Vamo lo pibe, dale bo!
posted by youthenrage at 9:36 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was once invited to a Boca game by a guy in the barra. He told me I would be safe with him and there was no fighting allowed until you left the field and got to the subway or buses. Then, "POW" you could fuck somebody up. Needless to say I avoided his invitation at the loss of a wonderful "cultural" experience.

There is another really creepy story about this guy and his crew that I don't want to get into here. He made another invitation I just had to refuse. I've never done this before but I had to cross the street to avoid him whenever I saw him coming. These dudes are straight up thugs,
posted by Che boludo! at 10:24 AM on October 11, 2012

Great and depressing post. I've rooted (very casually) for Boca for over forty years, but I don't think I can do so any longer. I'll still root for La Albiceleste, though.
posted by languagehat at 1:38 PM on October 11, 2012

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