Superclasico: River vs. Boca without visiting fans
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — The Superclasico between bitter Buenos Aires rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors should give fans a respite from worrying about Argentina’s many social and economic problems.
Instead, it’s a reminder — starting with the fact that River’s Monumental Stadium on Sunday will be filled with only local fans of River Plate. The government bans visiting supporters from attending away games in an effort to stem endemic violence and hooliganism in the Argentine game.
A mix of about 3,000 police and security guards are expected for the game, assigned to contain 60,000 fans inside the stadium — and thousands outside.
Argentina needs a distraction. The government is struggling with a weak economy, a growing recession and one of the world’s highest inflation rates.
River Plate leads the Argentine first division with 21 points, eight clear of Boca. Both teams are under new coaches — Marcelo Gallardo at River Plate and Rodolfo Arruabarrena at Boca.
“This team has togetherness and ambition,” said Rodrigo Mora of Uruguay, who has scored five goals. Colombian Teofilo Gutierrez has eight and leads the team.
Boca is led by keeper Agustin Orion and midfielder Fernando Gago — both from Argentina’s runner-up World Cup team.
“In these Superclasicos, they are played like a big final. You give everything,” Gago said. “We have to be a serious team, intense in every part of the pitch.”
In addition to the intensity on the field, there is also a battle going on between directors of the two clubs.
Boca vice president Juan Carlos Crespi suggested that River Plate followers lacked passion, supporting the team only when it’s winning.
Rodolfo D’Onofrio, presdient of River, asked Crespi to limit his comments, suggesting they might prompt violence.
“Crespi made a mistake,” D’Onofrio said. “We have to turn down the volume before the match. We don’t want to lose the spark, the joy. But we want to avoid the violence, which is a very difficult subject.”