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Bizarre Pictures From Latin America's Stadiums: Twitter Users Share Football's Chaotic Good, Neutral and Evil.

By Alberto Cox Délano | Miscellaneous | October 19, 2021 |

By Alberto Cox Délano | Miscellaneous | October 19, 2021 |


ghostofrelegationspast.jpeg

Let’s get something out of the way: Football violence in Latin America is both the symptom and the cause of some of our Region’s worst social ailments. First, there are the killings alone, which number in the hundreds per decade in countries like Brazil or Argentina. Then there’s the pervasive way in which the barras bravas have taken over the stadiums, football clubs, and entire federations, filling in the gaps of an absent state and becoming indistinguishable from criminal gangs. And even without this, there’s the physical condition of the stadiums and… well, we do have a cavalier attitude in Latin America towards risks.

Still, at least the hinchadas here are waaaaaaay less likely to be associated with neonazis.

But the other side of football in Latin America is the carnival. A chaotic, undisciplined, beautiful, epic, certainly dangerous but enthralling religious celebration that vibrates in everything in your body that is made of cells, even for those of us who are non-observant/agnostic but culturally religious. That fever is something worthy of UNESCO’s Untangible Cultural Heritage, but it’s expressions cannot be easily parsed out from the chaos and the danger. Still, it’s because of this that Latin American football is an endless source of bizarre images, immortalized by professional reporters or random folks with their cameras (even before cellphones, the matches where the kind of place worthy of a film roll). They are right at the intersection of utter surrealism and gritty photojournalism (NO, I WILL NOT SAY THEY ARE “MAGICAL REALISM”).

A user by the name of @elBizaRacing called for submissions of these pictures, one of those moments that unifiy all fans in the joy and disaster of our football, and I had to share them with you. Some of them might count as NSFW, I’m not quite sure, but I skipped the many, many registers of fans stripping down naked, for our more impressionable American readers.

Make sure you have these two classics playing while reading:

Generations

This one is actually adorable and a lovely show of how the passion for football is a way of bonding.

But then, of course, some parents’ devotion span is more limited:

And then there were the ones who straight up taped flares to their children’s chest to smuggle them into the stadium.

This one brought his grandfather’s skull, apparently, as Racing Club won the Argentinian Championship

Animals in the Pitch

What, you thought we’d keep someone from supporting their favorite team just because they walk in four legs? Or no longer alive?

(Also, there are hundreds of videos of doggos entering the pitch, but that one’s for another day)

This is no place for ableism

There’s a subcategory of people wielding their prosthetic leg as a ceremonial stick:

This one’s a classic:

People throw the darndest things

Throwing things at the pitch is a reprehensible, dangerous and outright gross practice. That doesn’t mean it can’t get poetical, like the fans that threw bags and syringes of blood to their own players, as a way of saying “put some effort in the game”.

This one looks like an art installation.

Chilean moments: The fans threw an empanada to the referee. You know how pissed a Chilean has to be to consciously discard a perfectly good empanada? And then there was the time they threw a cash register, again, poetical.

Let me in… LET ME IN

Boundaries are fluid, y’know.

There was that time an Uruguayan fan stopped a goal

That time the fans of Paraguayan club Olimpia stole the cups from their archrivals, Guaraní. Still not the most ignominious way championship cups have been stolen in South America.

The biggest of all fans have made the perimetral fences their frontlines, which makes it impossible for ESL teachers to explain the idiom “on the fence”.

Even the boundary between life and death

Infrastructure Weak

Apologies for that pun

Houses underneath the stadium’s seats. Still better zoning than most of the US.

Cleanest stadium bathrooms by a mile

They fought the law, and the law had a phyrric victory.

When the riot police makes their way into the stadium, it’s hard to tell whether it is the one time they are actually needed or whether it is another staging ground for overpolicing and escalation. At least there’s a symmetry of forces here.

Life finds a way

Accidental Renaissance

(That is an actual moat encircling the pitch of El Cilindro de Avellaneda, it has a perimetral wall, of course, but all walls are also platforms for those who try hard enough)

In Conclusion

“Pay what you owe, rat”

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