Tag Archives | soccer

Buenos Aires Prepares for Early Rush Hour Tomorrow

Argentina meets South Korea in their second World Cup match tomorrow…at 8:30am local time in Buenos Aires.

Now, if you know anything about Argentines, they are not early risers. You will see more people on the streets at 4am on a Sunday morning than at 10am.  However, soccer matches are a completely different story.  This may be the earliest the entire country has ever been up.

So, how do Argentines watch the match when they’re supposed to be at work?  Well, many companies have put in TVs to allow employees to catch the games. With this in mind, plan on an earlier than usual rush hour tomorrow in Buenos Aires as everyone rushes to be at their desk before 8:30am. Or, maybe everyone will just call in sick…

To get you in the spirit, here’s another World Cup inspired video. This one is from Voxpop, an Argentine acapella group. They recorded this acapella tribute to the Argentine football team, and to two of the FIFA World Cup songs: Un’ Estate Italiana from Italy 1990 and Wavin’ Flag from South Africa 2010.


World Cup Fever Coming to Argentina

If you’re like me (from the States), the World Cup is probably something you know about and might watch should you be channel surfing. However, if you’re Argentine, then the World Cup is something you’ve been waiting the last four years for. In fact, soccer is pretty much a religion here. (Seriously, there’s an actual church dedicated to Argentine soccer superstar Diego Maradona.) And, from what I’ve heard, there’s no better time to be in Buenos Aires than during the World Cup. The parties and festivities are supposed to be legendary.

There certainly have been a lot of ups and downs leading up to this year’s World Cup for Argentina. Maradona was chosen to coach the Argentine squad despite having no coaching experience and the team almost missed the World Cup for the first time since 1970. Since recovering, Maradona’s been fined and banned for a TV tirade, run over the foot of a reporter, had surgery after being bitten by his own dog, demanded new luxury toilets be installed in his South African suite, been accused of financing violent Argentine soccer hooligans trips to South Africa and promised threatened to run naked through the streets of Buenos Aires should Argentina win the World Cup. You just can’t make this stuff up.

There’s almost as much hype and drama surrounding Lionel Messi, FIFA’s top player and Argentina’s best hope for a World Cup title. His World Cup qualifying performance was less than spectacular and he received a lot of criticism.  Full blown media coverage resulted when he scraped his knee in practice. No one knows if the Argentine style of play will allow him to be the standout player that he is for Barcelona. (Argentina is not a favorite to win the World Cup and Messi names London, Spain and Brazil as the teams to beat plus talks about his close relationship with Maradona in a recent CNN interview.)

None of this is damping Argentine spirits though. After a 5-0 thrashing of the Canadian team in an exhibition match on May 24 at a sold-out River Plate stadium, the Argentine team looks strong. And, the Argentine team doctor, Dr. Donato Vallani, has just given the go ahead for players to have sex during the World Cup. “The players can have sex with their wives and girlfriends during the World Cup,” he said on Radio Del Plata. “Players are not Martians.” “But,” he added, “it should not be at 2 a.m. with champagne and Havana cigars.”

If you want to get a true sense of the Argentine spirit regarding football, check out this commercial from TyC Sports, a local sports channel. In my opinion, it captures the essence of the Argentines.

The first Argentina World Cup match is June 12 versus Nigeria. You can enjoy all the games with the BA Pub Crawl World Cup Kickoff Party on June 10 too.

Want to read more about Maradona? Check out these great articles:
Love and Loathing in Buenos Aires: My Life Chasing Diego Maradona [The Independent]
The Resurrection of Diego Maradona [FT.com]
Maradona is in charge at World Cup and Argentines brace themselves for shocks [Canadian Press]

And, if you’re looking for the World Cup schedule, check out the cool poster below by designer David Watson from Trebleseven to raise money for Soccer Aid, an English charity that raises money for UNICEF.


Buenos Aires News: Edition 1

Welcome to the first of a weekly series highlighting some of what I consider to be the more interesting news from Buenos Aires and Argentina.  I find many new things every week and often want to blog about them, but realize that I don’t always have the time to get to them.  Hopefully, with these posts, I can just give a quick summary and you can read the ones that interest you.

Maradona rubbed from Yahoo! web by Argentinian judge [The Register]
Following a judge’s temporary restraining order, all searches for Diego Maradona, Argentina’s most (in)famous soccer player, on Yahoo! Argentina have been blocked.  Argentine judges have issued more than 100 search site restraining orders over the past two years in an attempt to expunge allegedly inappropriate references to some of the country’s most recognizable names. Most of these have been lead by one attorney who is effectively censoring the Internet.

Argentine Fans Hijack Public Buses To Go To Match [Reuters UK]
How much do Argentines love their soccer?  Let’s just say that things often get a little crazy when soccer is involved and this latest story is no exception.  On November 13, in two separate incidents, fans of an Argentine second division soccer team hijacked two public buses and ordered the drivers to take them to their team’s game.

Spare Change? There’s None in Buenos Aires [Time]
Time has a good article covering the shortage of coins in Buenos Aires and the problems it’s causing across the city.  Many stores have “No Change” signs up, large grocery stores routinely round-off the total in their favor.  So acute was the coin shortage, one day last month, that the Metrovias subway company was forced to open its turnstiles and let passengers ride for free after it ran out of change. Interesting article…

Argentina vetoes glacier law that curbed mining [Reuters]
Argentina’s president has vetoed a law that would have protected the country’s glaciers by restricting mining and oil drilling. The law, which was passed by Congress last month, was vetoed by President Cristina Fernandez. She issued a decree stating that governors in Andean provinces feared the glacier law could threaten economic development in their regions.

Al Jazeera focuses on Latin America [The Miami Herald]
The Buenos Aires office of Al Jazerra’s English service is dedicated to reporting the news from Latin America in a different way.

Brazil, Argentina Agree to Increase Import Taxes [Bloomberg]
As if imported good were not expensive enough here, Bloomberg is reporting that import taxes will be raised on various products including wine, peaches, canned foods, textiles, pasta and wooden furniture, from outside the Mercosur trading bloc.

Fiscal Crisis Gives Argentines Familiar Sinking Feeling [New York Times]
A growing number of Argentines are stockpiling dollars amid worries that their government’s economic policies have doomed them to yet another financial crisis.


How Not To Go To A Boca Juniors Game

Quick Link: Get Boca Juniors Tickets. Now, onto our story…

The one thing every tourist guidebook recommends that you do when you come to Buenos Aires is to go to a Boca Juniors soccer game. Well, Sunday was the first time we had a chance to catch a match, and it was pretty exciting.  The crowd is completely fanatic and the singing and enthusiasm is something you have to experience.  I would recommend buying tickets in advance or even from a ticket broker who picks you up and takes you there, rather than going with the method we stumbled into…

We only decided a couple of hours before game time that we wanted to go, so we rushed out to our friends’ apartment in San Telmo and then all six of us walked over to the stadium together.  We ended up at the back entrance of the stadium where they were letting cars through, and proceeded to ask the staff working there where we could buy tickets (using our rudimentary Spanish).  Well, it turns out that we were completely on the wrong side of the stadium and they pointed us to a long walk around a park to the other side of the stadium in order to buy tickets. They also told us that reserved seating was not on sale on game days and that we would only be able to get general admission seating. (I don’t know whether this was true or not.) Hmmm… We started to debate our options. One of the workers was kind enough to warn us about scalpers and fake tickets too – and then proceed to say that he could get us legitimate seats for $100 pesos each.

We decided to have a group debate on the subject that basically went like this: “Well, he works here, so he’ll only have legit tickets.” “How much do tickets actually cost? Is $100 too much?” “We should just walk to the other side.” “Hmmm…I dunno.”  Yes, it quickly became apparent that we had not done enough research.  We thanked him and decided to walk to the closer side of the stadium (not where they had originally pointed us) since we saw a lot of people going that way and…well, who knows what we thought. Of course, once we made the 10-15 minute walk there, we found only another entrance and no ticket sales. Once again, we were pointed to the long walk around the stadium. (It seems they only sell tickets at one location.)

We started to walk back the way we came – grabbing a chorizo sandwich and Fanta along the way – and came across our “friend” who had offered to get us tickets. At this point, it was getting closer to game time, so we decided to see what he could do.  We tried to negotiate for $500 pesos (which didn’t work) and he told us to wait off to the side for 10 minutes while he got us tickets. Once again, the group discussion started: “Is this legit?” “Are we paying too much?” “We should just walk around to the other side.” “What if they are sold out?” “I don’t want general admission.” Ok, group consensus – let’s wait the 10 minutes and see what happens.  During that time, we saw another couple (who spoke Spanish) negotiate and get 2 tickets. We watched them walk into the game with no problem. Ok, good news…the tickets worked for them!  We’ll wait for ours.

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