Soccer, passion of multitudes

Platea and a tour are the best bets for tourists.

Sergio Capurso / For FST
Almost all porteños are fans of one soccer club or another, and they anxiously wait for Sunday to roll around to be able to watch their team play. So it is not surprising that during the past few years the experience of watching a soccer match has risen steadily on the “must” lists of tourists who come to Argentina.
During the two to five hours before the beginning of the match (according to its importance), street vendors sell flags, caps and team shirts in the vicinity of the stadium, enhancing the feeling of expectation.
The ideal place to really live a soccer match is the “Popular” sector (the cement bleachers behind the goals at either end of the stadium), which at the ticket office is listed as “General.” It is the cheapest ticket; it costs around 30 pesos and is unnumbered. No sooner do you enter, you see the team’s supporters and hear their team songs.

If the game is considered important, the team song is deafening, and if there is a goal, the supporters climb the wire fencing or bang on the safety glass panels that separate them from the field.
In Argentina, soccer clubs do not enforce seating room in the popular sectors of their stadiums. In this sector fans always end up watching the match standing up, because even though they can sit before the start of the game, the sector fills up as more supporters arrive, and when playing gets under way people stand up in front, obliging everyone behind them to get to their feet as well in order to watch the action. The soccer clubs don’t bar entrance to hooligans either. These types always hang out beneath the banners that run down the middle of the popular sectors behind the respective goals.
Tourists who want to go to the Popular without having a bad time of it should keep as far away from them as possible, and sit toward the sides of the sector. And never cheer when the rival team makes a goal, or refrain from cheering when the team of the “Popular” makes one.
When the first half is over, I suggest that you go to one of the food stands to eat a delicious choripán (a sandwich featuring a sausage of River Plate origin with chimichurri sauce). Don’t miss it!The part of the stadium where you can watch the match comfortably seated, without supporters who stand up and shout like in the Popular, is called Platea. Here tickets cost from 60 to 80 pesos. The seats are numbered and you can go without having to worry so much about your camera or cine camera, or having to hide it so they won’t realize that you’re a tourist.

Boca Juniors and River Plate are the two most important teams of Argentine soccer, and imagine what happens when they play each other in the Super Classic match which, if you happen to be coming to Buenos Aires, will be played Sunday October 25.
Other important teams are Racing, Independiente, San Lorenzo, Estudiantes de La Plata, and Argentinos Juniors, which represents a Buenos Aires neighborhood called La Paternal, whose stadium is named after Diego Armando Maradona, as it is there that the most important player of Argentine soccer began his career.
In case you don’t want to go alone, several companies organize excursions to soccer matches; they pick you up at your hotel or hostel and take you there.
This is a really unique show that cannot be compared with other classics played elsewhere in the world. You have to come and experience it.
This is why Argentine soccer cannot be explained; it must be lived and felt, like porteños do every Sunday in a soccer stadium.

PHOTO CREDITS: The Boca Juniors popular sector, Club Atlético Boca Juniors. The River Plate popular sector, Club Atlético River Plate