Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Independiente v Racing November 2006
For an englishman Avellaneda , in Buenos Aires, is not easy to pronounce ('abeshaneda' maybe) & though it is a station on the line from Constitution when you get there don't expect it to have that name on the platform - it actually says Dario y Maxi.
But i'm sure the two sets of fans had no problem getting to the stadium as this couldn't be much more of a local 'derby' - their respective stadia are about 150 metres apart.
Not that they would go to the game together (this being Argentina) - the two groups are channelled through specific streets & entrances with diagrams in the morning sports paper.
50,000 attended this last clasico at the Independiente stadium before it is re-built, many arriving 3 hours or so before the kick-off & for some it was not a comfortable experience & for all it finished early.
The stadium is partly covered , very unusual in Argentina, & it resembles a European ground albeit from 20 years ago. The packed terraces also bring back memories but the noise, smoke, balloons, streamers & passion are pure Argentina.
The afternoon (it was a c.5pm kick-off) became quite hot especially when you were exposed to the unrelenting sun - in the shade it was pleasant enough.
But some Racing fans did have the chance to cool down later on as the water cannon was wheeled out. Before that they had been shot at with rubber bullets & had tear gas to inhale - presumably in reaction to missiles being thrown at the police (I was in the home area)
Action that eventually resulted in the referee having to abandon the game.
The contest itself - almost incidental - lasting around 65 minutes was a triumph for Independiente with Montenegro scoring through a penalty (following a rather inexplicable handball) & from a nicely chipped second.
The atmosphere & build up made this an awesome spectacle that somehow couldn't contain the passion generated without degenerating into (partial) mayhem & ultimate suspension of play.
Not a unique occurrence in Argentina.
You couldn't help thinking that unless the atmosphere it is kept within reasonable (i.e non-violent) boundaries the risk is that these clasicos might go the way of many European derbies where there are often few (or sometimes none at all) away fans present.
Subsequently I understand the AFA (Argentinian FA) did disallow visiting fans from attending games for the remainder of the season - then rescinded the restriction.