Sunday was El Clasico here in Medellin. El Clasico is the soccer or futbol match between the city’s two rival teams: Medellin and Nacional. This game happens four times a year, and every time it’s:
essentially a guaranteed riot.
Today, before the game, there were police patrolling every street in a 10 block radius of the stadium. They were randomly frisking anyone who remotely looked like a hooligan. As I left the hostel with David, we saw a cop carrying a confiscated machete. The previous Clasico there were 8 people seriously injured in the riots after the game. I could also hear the water cannons going off from my apartment – my apartment is 2kms from the stadium. Knowing all of this, we took off for the game while holding our pants up (belts are weapons and are not allowed within the stadium.)
Your friendly riot police keeping the peace.
Here I am before the game with my beer posing with one of the riot police. In Canada I’d get a baton to the back of the legs and a $250 fine for drinking in public and trying to take this photo. Here, I’m just a harmless (although extremely big) gringo. I think I could take him.
The game was a bit slow.
So the stadium was far from full, which surprised me. I was wondering why such an important soccer game would be so empty. My friend told me that there are more supporters of Nacional, and this was a home game for Medellin, with all of the revenues going to the Medellin team. Hence, the fans of Nacional not wanting to give their hard earned pesos to Medellin. The North and South sections, however, were packed, and that’s where the locos “sit” (no one sits for a second of the game in those sections.) We were in the relative security of the East section.
The four of us who attended El Clasico.
Juan and Daniel, why so glum? Your team won. Smile! Anyways this was the group I went with. David, who makes me look like a Paisa when I stand next to his flowing blonde locks, to my right, and my two good Paisa friends Juan and Daniel to my left. It was a good taste of El Clasico, and believe it or not, we didn’t participate in, start, or finish any fights. I guess we’re not good soccer hooligans.
Here’s a video of the fanaticos after Medellin scored the game’s lone goal.