One of the most important decisions any overseas visitor will have to make when coming to Argentina is which football club he or she is going to support. Everyone in Argentina has a soccer team, even people who don’t like football, and never watch matches. It’s like a star sign, or a blood type – everyone has one.
Some people may not care who you support, but many will see it as a good indication of what kind of person you are. Certain people will take an instant liking to you because of your team, others will narrow their eyes at you and slowly start to edge away. Your proclamation of which team you support could result in a range of reactions such as someone laughing in your face or a patting you on the shoulder with a pitiful sigh.
So be careful when choosing an Argentine team. If you are a football lover, you probably already have a good idea of what you are looking for in a team. Decide if you prefer silky entertainers or rough and ready enforcers. Do you want a guaranteed trophy-winning machine, or do you like to barrack for the underdog? A fallen giant or a brash upstart? And if you couldn’t give two hoots about ‘the beautiful game,’ why not make your selection based on team colors, or social status?
The obvious choice, and the one most people make, is to go with a Boca, which is a wise decision, because you are bound to be backing a winner. The same used to be said for their number one rival, River Plate except for when that team was shamefully relegated to Division B in 2011 (now they’re back!).
The ‘Big Five’ in Argentina is rounded out by San Lorenzo, Racing and Independiente, so support any of those clubs and you will find many friends. Those who like to be original shouldn’t rule out getting behind one of the Division B clubs — Argentines will be very impressed at your shrewdness.
Whatever you do, pick wisely. Once you are a fan (hincha) of a certain team, it’s for life. There’s no changing allowed!
—by Dan Colasimone