Buenos Aires: where football is life
Part 1 – La Bombonera
Angelo Palmeri from Buenos Aires
It’s not just about a museum of a club. This is the passion on display. That’s exactly what Boca Juniors museum is about: ‘museo de la passion boquense’ – the museum showing the ‘boquense’ (Boca supporter) passion.
It’s not a case that the entrance is made of two walls: on one side the photo of each and every player who wore the club shirt (‘la camiseta’) and on the other side the names of the ‘socios fundadores’ the founding members of the club, each name represented in a star, exactly like one of those many stars (they are 52 to be precise) on the Boca coat of arms.
This is a story of men who put their passion both on the pitch and outside to build one of the greatest club of Latin America.
‘La mitad mas uno’ – the half plus one, it is the club motto referring to the fact that this is the most followed club in Argentina: half of the Argentines plus one, 51% of the population of the country are supposed to support the ‘azul y oro’ (blue-golden).
The club history has a strong tie with the Italian community of Genoa immigrants which inhabited the district of Boca and founded the club in the 20th century. Since then the nickname of ‘Xeneizes’, Genoese, from Genoa, as opposed to ‘Los Millionarios’, the city rivals of River Plate.
The club colours are tied to Sweden instead.
The history of how the colours where chosen is well depicted in an enormous painting at the main entrance lobby of the stadium ‘La Bombonera’. The founding members couldn’t agree on the club colours and decided to choose the colours of the flag of the first boat that would have entered the Buenos Aires harbour. Guess where the ship was coming from?
A perfect synthesis of what Argentine people call themselves: ‘hijos de los barcos’ – children of the ships, to remark they great grandfathers came from overseas to inhabit this land.
The stadium ‘La Bombonera’ is open to fans, visitors and tourists every day except on match days.
We’ve got special access to areas where normally people cannot go like the ‘Complejo Pedro Pompilio’ the training facility of Boca Juniors named after one of the Boca’s presidents which is attached to the stadium area.
It happened thanks to Skullcandy, the Utah-based company that markets headphones, earphones, hands free devices, audio backpacks, MP3 players, and other products for music lovers. At the end of October a new Boca branded set of headphones will be marketed in Argentina addressing the Boca Juniors fans: another item to add to their passion. Skullcandy people introduced headphones to the players in the lobby just behind the dressing room of the facility: judging by the loud tunes coming from the room, they do love music.
Boca Juniors were preparing the ‘Extraclasico’, the big derby against River Plate that took place in River’s stadium (‘Monumental’) on Sunday the 6that 18:15 local time (it was 00:15 EEST of the 7th). We will talk extensively about this event in next part.
The museum displays of all the cups won by Boca: Copa Libertadores (the equivalent of Champions League) and the Intercontinental cup (what is today’s FIFA Club World Cup) plus others; furthermore, an amazing collections of Boca’s jerseys through the years and visual history of the club. From the museum it is possible to enter the stadium and see how close the pitch is to the stands. Even though the game will be elsewhere, you can already feel the heat at staring at this amazing football facility which is symbol of the Latin American passion for the game. The‘hinchada’ (supporters stand) ‘Natalio Pescia’ (named after a player who played all his life for Boca and entered the Argentine football hall of fame) is just opposite and it’s marked with a ‘12’, the 12th man, ‘La doce’ : a symbolic tribute to the supporters that are like an additional player of the Boca’s starting XI.
The VIP boxes are on the right and there is where the Maradona clan takes its place when Boca Juniors play home. Diego is a great supporter of this club even though he played few seasons (1981-1982 and returned in 1995 to end his career in 1997). His iconic presence is everywhere: at the museum entrance with a gigantic statue each visitor wants to take a picture with and in the shops around the stadium where both home-made statues and Argentina vintage jerseys with ‘El Diez’ (the number 10) are still sold to mouthwatering fans, including your reporter.
Everything is history and modernity at the same time.
Past and present go hand in hand as you cannot build the future without knowing where you’re coming from. Boca fans know where they come from: a bunch of Genoese immigrants in the Boca district who took a Swedish flag as a role model and build the ‘rey mundial des clubes’ – the World king of football clubs.
More pictures here
- to be continued