AVELLANEDA, THE HELL’S KITCHEN.
Have you ever thought how close your friends are from you? Then, have you ever imagine how close are your rivals? Well, this is what happens in Avellaneda, a quarter from Buenos Aires famous worldwide because of its football teams. Yes, two of the biggest clubs in America share the neighbourhood and local passion. Club Atlético Independiente and Racing Club. Red against blue. Red devils against the Academy.
The Libertadores de América stadium and El Cilindro stadium are located just 500 meters from each other. Think about these clan clashes in New York from the decade of the ’30 and then locate it in Argentine football. This is the Clásico de Avellaneda, the hell’s kitchen.
Avellaneda is a very popular neighbourhood, out of Buenos Aires city centre and easy to get from 9 de Julio Avenue. Obviously, Avellaneda is better well known in the world for its two most important football clubs and both stadia. As we mentioned before, Independiente plays as local at the Estadio Libertadores de América. The home of Racing is El Cilindro but its real name is Estadio Presidente Perón.
Independiente has won 7 times the Copa Libertadores, holding the title of the most successful team in this competition. Meanwhile, Racing was the first Argentinian team to become World Champions after winning the Libertadores in 1967 – for that reason is called El Primer Grande (The First Big Team). Argentinian football is dominated by derbies, or clásicos. The capital, a city of 14 million people, is both the centre of life in Argentina and its footballing heart. Local clásicos are numerous. Boca vs River may divide the whole country, but Independiente v Racing – third and fourth in terms of fanbase – is the most intense derby in Buenos Aires.
In Avellaneda, Independiente and Racing graffitis compete on the walls. There are two types of bars: Racing bars and Independiente bars. Two types of restaurants: Racing restaurants and Independiente restaurants. And two types of people: Racing fans and Independiente fans. Nothing else.
Through the eyes of an Independiente fan
Fran is an Independiente fan from Buenos Aires. Despite the fact he doesn’t live in Avellaneda, he attends every single game and has an active life in the club, meeting other fans for asados on Thursdays and playing football on the little pitches next to the stadium.
“All my life goes around Independiente, even my girlfriend is a Rojo fan. Everything is red, my ‘mate’, underwear, caps and the car. My mum didn’t let me paint my room in red, she said that is not a relaxing colour for a bedroom. She is fine with it now , I think (laughs). I once went to Brazil for the Recopa Sudamericana against Gremio, was an amazing experience despite losing that game. It was my first international trip with Independiente; those days for the away game were my holidays. The world knows that in Avellaneda there is only one team, and that team wears RED. We are the ‘Rey de Copas’ (Cup’s King, because Independiente has won the Copa Libertadores seven times) in Argentina, South America and specially Avellaneda. I hope to see Kun Agüero back in the Libertadores de América, his home.”
Through the eyes of a local Racing fan
Martín is a huge Racing fan. He smiles everytime he is thinking about Racing, which is basically the whole day. I met this guy from Mar del Plata in Barcelona, wearing a La Guardia Imperial shirt, more or less like his ID to show where he comes from.
“All my family supports Racing. It’s something incredible. We were the first World Champions when we beat Celtic in 1967. This is the reason why Argentina wears blue and white stripes, because of Racing’s international success, we are so proud of it.
Our stadium was built by German architects after WWII and it’s totally covered. It’s completely packed on important matches and finals. You can’t imagine how that feeling is until you’re there. One of the best things in the world is to be next to our rival home – we walk proud and loud, singing songs against Independiente before the game, it’s electric. When Independiente had to build its own stadium, they played at El Cilindro as its home, but they never managed to fill it. Only Racing fills El Cilindro.”
Sometimes a single article just isn’t enough. On occassion, you need a whole series to experience the football cultures, the good the bad and the pioneering in football. That’s why we started our Original Series. From exploring the greatest derbies and cultural hotspots in the world of football, to the local stories. Natxo will bring you some of the greatest stories to inspire you to explore football cultures around the world.
By Natxo Togu