Fans and police in Sao Paulo, not wanting to be outdone by rioting Argentine Boca Juniors fans last week, took matters into their own hands last night and upped the ante with the following actions against Argentine River Plate supporters:
1. Stoning the River Plate buses on their way into the stadium.
2. Police brutality in the form of an attack with truncheons, but naturally not before the police tore down the River Plate fans' banner. To their credit, the resourceful River Plate fans responded by tearing up the wooden bleachers on which they were being attacked and using them as weapons against the policia. (You aren't a true fan until you've used the seat for which you paid good money as a weapon against rampaging law enforcement personnel.)
3. Throwing cups of water "and other liquids" at the River Plate fans from the upper tier. (This resolves the problem I always have at college football games: I drink a lot at a tailgate and then have to go to the bathroom, but the lines are always long and I don't want to miss any of the game. It turns out that the solution is the "LSU Molotov Cocktail": pee in a cup and throw it at opposing fans.)
I can't wait for the return leg. You know you're in for a good match when the visiting team's director says "The best would be to arrive by helicopter just before kick-off."
Two personal notes on this story:
1. I wrote a paper in college for a Latin American History class on stereotypes of Latin football in the European media. Got an "A" on it, to boot, although I got a bunch of strange looks from other people in the class after they had written papers on trade and illegal immigration. Anyway, the point was that the European media always plays up stories like the one I just linked because they essentially view Latin Americans as one step removed from savages. The question becomes "what would happen if the same violence took place in Europe"?
2. The Argentina-Brazil rivalry has always been near and dear to my heart because I rooted for Brazil as a youngster, while my brother Dan rooted for Argentina. This sibling rivalry, stoked by Argentina's 1-0 win over Brazil in the 1990 World Cup in which Brazil squandered chance after chance and lost when Argentina scored on their only shot of the game, found an outlet in a lengthy Super Nintendo Super Soccer rivalry, in which we created a detailed backstory about a stadium that straddled the Brazil/Argentina border and death camps throughout Argentina for Brazilians and anyone who came into physical contact with Brazilians. There was even a backstory for fictional Brazilian sub Gasar, relating to his propensity for flatulence. I guess you had to be there. (PS - I usually lost.)