Soccer in South America – Boca VS Olimpo: Home Opener

13 Feb

Boca VS Olimpo home opener - Buenos Aires

J.J. being a few years older than the rest of us, had the toughest time the next day so we took it pretty easy walking around Florida Avenue, through the small local artisan market and then in and out of a few shops. We were saving our energy for big plans that evening: the Boca vs Olimpo home-opener soccer game.

We were told to meet in the lobby of our hostel at 5:30pm where we would board the bus to first visit La Boca, a brightly coloured and also dangerous neighbourhood on the water, where we would stop to buy beers and any Boca jerseys, flags or scarves that we wanted to have for the game.

While boarding the bus we got to talking to 4 guys from Toronto. As we chatted we figured out that one of the guys had gone to ECI (Etobicoke Collegiate Institute) and was actually friends with my cousin! He even said that he’d seen her before he left on his trip and she jokingly told him to keep an eye out for me in Brazil during Carnival, never expecting us to actually meet, much less put together the connection.

On the ride to La Boca our guide told us to beware of Olimpo fans that would be sitting in the section directly above ours as it’s typical for the away team’s fans to pee off the ledge onto the home team’s fans. Our guide even showed us the extra t-shirt she’d stowed in her purse just in case she was hit with a golden shower!

We arrived in La Boca and after a beer or 2 in the streets, we boarded the bus to drive 3 blocks from the entrance of the stadium. We got off the bus and for unknown reasons, had to wait for the better part of an hour in line with our bus-mates where we passed the time talking to an Irish guy and girl who were traveling in a group of 6 and eventually looking to land in either Canada or Australia.

Finally we got to move up, but were strictly instructed to stay very close together and not to take our cameras out of our bags if we had them. The 3 blocks leading up to the stadium were lined with barricades, members of the army and the riot police.

We walked through the security check point to be searched and then waited for the other people from our bus to pass through. We walked a block or so and found that there was a second security check point where we would need to line up to be searched again. About a block or so later, a third search took place. I swear, the line-up to be searched at a Boca soccer game is the only time I’ve seen a women’s line shorter than a men’s.

The girls made it through the search much more quickly than the guys from our bus so we were taken into the stadium and shown our section. There are no assigned seats, only concrete stairs to stand on in a designated section which we’d been told about when we bought our tickets from our hostel to the game. When the guys got up we ordered chirizo sausages on buns for dinner and Cokes, as Coke is literally the only beverage available inside the stadium. No water, no beer, not even Diet Coke!

We found a small opening a few rows down, still under the covering of the section above us to try our best to avoid being peed on (though Jonny’s advice was: “Embrace it”), and waited for the game to start. Apparently Boca is the #1 team and Olimpo is one of the worst in the league but the teams looked to be a well-matched and it was a really good game, ending with Boca winning 2 – 0. At the end of the game we also felt like winners: us: 1, Olimpo fans trying to pee on us: 0.

It was crazy to see the riot police come out onto the field after the game and taking their positions along the goalie crease line, facing the stands to ensure the safety of the players. Tal said she even noticed some of the officers keeping tight to some of the key players as they exited the field.

After the game we had to wait a half hour in the stadium while the Olimpo fans left the building. When we were given the ok to leave, we found where all of the opposing pee had gone: down the stairs of the stadium. The smell of urine in the stairwells leading to the street exit was chokingly overpowering. It was absolutely disgusting – on par with some of the smells of the washrooms we experienced along the Inca Trail and in Bolivia.

The walk back to the bus was pretty uneventful, but the ride home was insane. Buses (city buses and I assume also the team buses) were escorted on their routes by police cars, vans and ambulances, each vehicle blaring their sirens and flashing their bright blue lights.

We had big plans to have a beer at the Millhouse hostel party when we got back, but in the war between bed and bar, bed won.


One Response to “Soccer in South America – Boca VS Olimpo: Home Opener”

  1. Clegg February 14, 2012 at 23:22 #

    Crazy mang!! I had heard of these shenanigans from TFC coworkers but it must have been unreal to experience it live! Embrace it!! Haha

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