Saturday, November 12, 2011

World Cup Qualifying Match: Argentina vs Bolivia

Last Night, Time Irado continued to soak in some of the best tradition of Latin America and attended another soccer game. Previously back in our "hometown" of Sao Paulo Brazil, I attended amateur futebol matches to see the great "Bernardo" score multiple goals for Sao Paulo Athletic Club, a professional club match with The Corinthians tying Avai, and today it was the tri-fecta by watching a nation team play a World Cup Qualifying Match. Albeit was Argentina and not Brazil (which would disappoint many of my new Brazilian friends) but we did purchase tickets to see Argentina vs Bolivia while we were in Buenos Aires.

A young fan wears his blue and white proudly

After taking a taxi to the area where the game was held, we walked up to the Rio de la Plata Stadium to find our seats. After having our tickets checked about 3-4 times by security forces, getting frisked to ensure I was not carrying a gun, and climbing a few sets of stairs, we had made it to our level at mid field. An usher stopped us and asked to see our tickets on the way in and he walked us about 30 feet, and then asked us for money. We looked at each other a bit stunned because he wanted money for walking us 30 feet when we already knew where our seats were. We just kept repeated "what for" about 4-5 times and he finally walked away. Success!

Inside the stadium which holds about 55,000 spectators, powder blue and white colors filled the stands.  Despite being a World Cup Qualifying match, there were many open seats but the crowd was ready to go with their banners, signs, and customary songs. The crowd quickly showed its power after Argentine star Lionel Messi, who is also tabbed as the best soccer player in the world, scored a goal. However it was called back because the side judge called him "Offside". This brought out the boos and derogatory chants aimed at the officials. But Argentina struck again just minutes later, only to be called offside again. A few minutes again, Messi struck again only to be called "Offside" again. After scoring 3 goals where none of them counted, the crowd became restless and many fans seemed to be in great pain as the play resumed with the score still tied 0-0. This was also the score at the half.

Argentina fans celebrate during the World Cup Qualifying game vs Bolivia
At the start of the second period, Bolivia got on the scoreboard first with a breakaway goal. The Bolivian striker took his shirt off and ran over to the corner where Argentina's craziest fans were located and taunted them. This is not recommended for anyone to taunt the visiting fans, but especially in Latin or European Soccer matches. We heard stories of Police shields being used to protect players while playing corner kicks, throw ins, and when they exit the field. Barbed wire and high fences lined the field but somehow I did not think that Bolivian antagonist was safe after his display.

A few minutes later, Argentina found the net again, this time no penalty was called. The fans erupted in joy and suddenly the Bolivian faithful tucked away in their section surrounded by the fences and barbed wire were rather quite. The overall sloppy play plagued the match and the game ended in a 1-1 tie. We left the stadium in a hurry and found our taxi to head back to the hotel.

Overall, tt was another great experience but I was surprised to see some empty seats for such an important match, but at the price of $230 Argentinian Pesos ($55USD), it was not the cheapest ticket for your average fan. Time Irado now heads out to see what else this city has to offer.

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