¡Viva La Boca!

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

 › entry 5 of 5 › view all entries
Soccer is huge all over the world. It’s the world’s most popular sport, and there’s no shortage of popularity here in Argentina. Buenos Aires alone has twenty teams in the first division alone. Buenos Aires is, and has been, a huge soccer city, with many historical rivalries among the athletic clubs. One of the most famous rivalries is between Boca Juniors and River Plate. Both teams started in the lower class, immigrant-filled neighborhood of La Boca, thus serving as the formation of the traditional rivalry. However, later River Plate chose to move to the wealthier, northern barrio of Nuñez, thus further strengthening the rivalry and creating the labels of Boca being the team of the people, lower class and River Plate being the team of the wealthy, middle and upper class. However, today both teams have their fair share of mixed-wealth fan-bases. The strong “hatred” between Boca and River fans can be seen very clearly today. Boca Juniors have been on an incredible winning streak in past few years, winning six Copa Libertadores championships. River Plate, on the other hand, hasn’t been blessed with the same luck and hasn’t been a very strong team in recent years. Thus, River fans despise Boca and will even cheer for rival clubs and teams of other countries in hopes of Boca losing. This year, Boca Juniors have continued their winning streak, and I have had the enjoyment this week of witnessing another Copa Libertadores trophy being proudly hoisted up and shown to all the cheering Boca fans. And as traditionally done, hundreds (maybe thousands) of Boca fans stormed the Obelisk in downtown Buenos Aires to celebrate until sunrise.

So, what make soccer and its fans so entrenched in society and, basically, such a big deal? In the US, no sport even comes close. We have baseball, football, basketball, etc that are all very popular sports, but not to the degree of soccer in the rest of the world. You don’t see Atlanta Falcons fans rioting in the streets losing a game. Soccer in Latin America is a way of life. When you’re born, you grow up generally supporting you neighborhood club. For national tournaments, the entire country comes together and rallies behind the national team. Here in Buenos Aires, during the World Cup, the city literally shuts down during the matches. Soccer become more important that anything else. To me, I can understand soccer being so popular, and I myself love the sport very much, but I still haven’t found an answer to exactly why it is so popular, why has it come to be a way of life. I could speculate for hours. Perhaps, it’s because it is one of the simplest and cheapest sports to play. Technically, all you need is a ball. That’s it. You’re done, go play. And perhaps because of this, soccer, in especially developing nations, was very easy to get behind, and it has evolved from there through the generations. Whatever the reason, soccer isn’t going anywhere for a long time. Sure countries, like Argentina, have other national sports like rugby and polo, but nothing compares to pride and obsession of soccer.

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