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Achieving Your 'Gol' - Fútbol in Argentina

 The Racing Club's dedicated fans with their flag

They say that if you visit Argentina, you must make getting to a fútbol match a priority. Now I understand for myself what they're talking about. On Saturday April 11, my classmates and I had the privilege to go a CEA-sponsored cultural event - a fútbol match between Racing Club and Independiente.

Not only was it an unparalleled sensory experience to be surrounded by the cheers of the crowd and watch the action unfold before my own eyes, but also a good chance to learn some about Argentine fútbol culture and background about the teams from our porteño guide and local hincha de Racing (Racing fan). Racing Club, founded in 1903, takes its name from the front page of a French automotive magazine one of the founders was reading at the time. I've noticed a trend that many Argentine teams feature English words in their names, such as other prominent teams Boca Juniors and River Plate. At the time of writing this article, Racing stands in 6th place in the primer division of Argentine fútbol with a record of 4-4. Their colors are light blue and white, nearly identical to the Argentine flag and national team.

 The players take the field!

Racing is from the neighborhood of Avellaneda in Buenos Aires - there are over 20 teams based in the city, all hailing from different neighborhoods. The local fútbol team is a very salient factor of cultural unification for porteños - it's much more than a sports team, it's a way of life. I met a Racing fan who drove through the night from Buenos Aires to Paraguay to see them play, without blinking an eye. In addition to colors and logos, each team has a vast repertoire of chants the fans know by heart and yell at every game. And heaven forbid you wear an opposing team's jersey in the wrong neighborhood - you could end up robbed or injured.
 Enthusiastic fans

I was expecting the game to be a chaotic, bombastic affair, with brawls between opposing fans erupting all around me. To my initial surprise, only the home team's fans are allowed at the game - mandated by law in Buenos Aires. This is a relatively recent law, enacted due to violence and deaths that occurred in the stands between rival teams in the past. Alcohol is also not permitted in the stadium for this reason. I certainly had plenty of rowdy fun, however - erupting in outrage over a bad call or in jubilance upon the scoring of a goal. Getting enthusiastic hugs and high fives from excited porteños upon a goal being scored is an incredible experience that I rank near the top of my time here in Buenos Aires. Overall, the game was a very enjoyable environment and I never felt in danger - fans and families of all ages filled the stadium, all just there to have a good time and root on their team!

At the end of the 90 minutes, Racing won 2-0! A perfect ending to my first authentic fútbol match in South America! I's very clear how infectious the fútbol spirit can be and why Argentines consider it such an integral part of life. It's imperative you make it a gol to go to a fútbol game while visiting Argentina :)

 CEA's new Racing fans!


Maximilian Mohr is the Spring 2015 CEA MOJO in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is currently a junior at the College of William and Mary.

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