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.
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:
Hagamos un hilo de fotos totalmente bizarras, tomadas en un estadio de fútbol pic.twitter.com/s4rLttEHVH— BIZARACING (@elBizaRacing) October 13, 2021
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:
El sueño de todo padre pic.twitter.com/EAQShEfA8X— Jona Venialgo (@jona_venialgo) October 13, 2021
And then there were the ones who straight up taped flares to their children’s chest to smuggle them into the stadium.
como olvidar a la chabona que le pego petardos en la panza a una nena para entrarlos a la cancha pic.twitter.com/MUTOri91H4— boligoma 🎃 (@boligoma_) October 13, 2021
El popular bebé bengala 🎇 pic.twitter.com/Uxuxgr0mbN— Maximiliano Rodrigo (@MaxiRodrigo_) October 13, 2021
This one brought his grandfather’s skull, apparently, as Racing Club won the Argentinian Championship
Este señor pic.twitter.com/eXMlYjhwN1— Batallismo (@batallismo) October 13, 2021
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?
Aguante el provi ✌🏻 pic.twitter.com/06BV07O5eh— Lincon Ruiz (ex Star lord) (@CarlosR93551558) October 13, 2021
No puede faltar Napoleón, el perrito embalsamado de Atlanta, categoría 1936. pic.twitter.com/s3ncfA5Aa6— Julimaza (@julimazapunta) October 13, 2021
La hinchada de Los Andes con carreta y caballo en la popular pic.twitter.com/Zi5ciX2A1q— Solo Carolina. (@Car1t0o0_) October 13, 2021
Año 2005, Rocha FC, un equipo del interior de Uruguay salió campeón por primera vez en su historia y dieron la vuelta olímpica con una vaca. pic.twitter.com/dhnGZrOdUf— TAAismo🏺 (@TAAismo) October 13, 2021
Se olvidaron de esto pic.twitter.com/OEg8noTc2Q— Ivan Barraza (@Ivan_cab09) October 13, 2021
(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:
Mi aporte: Quilmes señores! pic.twitter.com/jXB0mTgXuh— Pasto (@EstebanPasto) October 13, 2021
This one’s a classic:
Amistad y amor por la camiseta. Valiente y decidido (como una de las acepciones de Bizarro) Hermosa postal. pic.twitter.com/izhPyeI8OP— Hernando (@hernandogs) October 13, 2021
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”.
Jeringas con sangre para los jugadores de Talldres pic.twitter.com/gstMkWSU4W— Flavio Olmos Cant (@F_olmoscant) October 13, 2021
La gente de Colón en las malas… pic.twitter.com/kGgb9M3HJL— Eises (@Eises26) October 13, 2021
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.
La robada de manguera de chaca!— Tito. (@MuchoKiss) October 13, 2021
"Cambió la situación" pic.twitter.com/asRwclnR1Q
Let me in… LET ME IN
Boundaries are fluid, y’know.
el que no entra se la come— Kylian (@marinellideltw) October 13, 2021
las pibas: etc etc
los pibes: pic.twitter.com/B1DPLruN5R
There was that time an Uruguayan fan stopped a goal
27/9/1992, día del Hincha de Racing Club de Montevideo. Entró un particular para evitar el gol. pic.twitter.com/E1yo0W5tBo— Nico 🇳🇬🍺🧉🚂 (@HayTongos) October 13, 2021
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.
En medio del Partido.— luchoS.99 (@LuisSoria99) October 13, 2021
Guarani vs Olimpia.
La hinchada visitante logra robar algunas copas y las muestran a la camara. pic.twitter.com/Ja44KPBiiE
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”.
La nena bailarina de sm Tucumán pic.twitter.com/ne8ggiHzN5— ᴬᵀ| Lųƙყ (@Lukygarcia25) October 13, 2021
Even the boundary between life and death
Estadio General Santander, Cúcuta Deportivo 🇨🇴🇨🇴😬 pic.twitter.com/vN6w6HUsJJ— Amy Winehouse (@guara_sepu) October 13, 2021
Apologies for that pun
Las tribunas del parque central ( cancha de nacional de montevideo). La vecina, doña Rosa, te cuelga la ropa pic.twitter.com/hoIlQBpFCF— Cryptocarbonero (@criptocarbonero) October 13, 2021
Houses underneath the stadium’s seats. Still better zoning than most of the US.
Debajo de la tribuna de san martin de tucuman hay casas pic.twitter.com/Mjd4AqXfE5— ~Lucas~ (@decano_20) October 13, 2021
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.
En el Roberto Carminatti, Olimpo le ganaba a Almagro y lo mandaba al descenso en el Clausura 2005. Los del tricolor pararon el partido y se metió la policia a caballo a poner orden jajaja pic.twitter.com/GOu1u84s9v— Fernando Arce (@FernandoArce_) October 13, 2021
Clasico santafesino 2012 pic.twitter.com/cTBvoimSDy— Leo Carol (@Madelonista) October 13, 2021
Policía escapando de la tribuna de lafe en un partido contra almirante en caseros. pic.twitter.com/Umi6Qgx4HN— 🇦🇷Oktubre 🇳🇬 (@Oktubre40007855) October 13, 2021
Insuperable pic.twitter.com/h6wy6NhN4h— Pablo (@Pablo13__) October 13, 2021
El Canalla re atrevido. Andapaya japish 👊🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/6jRMb2ctWZ— Lucas (@Carc_Luucas) October 13, 2021
Life finds a way
Meléndez surfeando sobre Marcelo Salas pic.twitter.com/nENUnbUf94— 🕹️🎮 Nacho🎮🕹️ (@NachoEsCoffret) October 13, 2021
(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)
“Pay what you owe, rat”
Header Image Source: Getty Images