Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
"Each country is very different," he said, in English better than mine. "The British are very reserved and would rather not talk about the problem. The Scandinavian countries will sit down for a brief meeting, simple and to the point and get it out of the way. And the Latins... well, they will take to the streets, shake their fists and make a lot of noise."
Argentina, a country consisting overwhelmingly of people of Italian origin, fall firmly into my Slovenian friend's stereotype. If there is something to protest against, they will.
As I write from an office on the main Avenida de mayo, near the government house, I hear all manner of songs, drums and pyrotechnics. Who knows what they are angry about (let's face there's a lot to choose from)?
Football fans are no different of course, but when 2,000 Racing fans assembled for a highly-organised march yesterday, in the middle of a very hot afternoon, to the Argentinian FA's headquarters to demand elections for their ailing club it took everyone a little by surprise.
It wasn't the first time they'd marched. In 2000, with the country at economic crisis point, 3,000 fans marched to ask the government for help against bankruptcy and the almost certain closure of this 105-year-old club. They won and Racing stumble on. Now they are marching against the company Blanquiceleste Ltd, (named after their blue and white jerseys) who took control of Racing.
Ex-players, ex-coaches, life long members and the barra brava blocked BA's main thoroughfare, chanting, 'Racing belongs to the fans, not the company' and pleading with AFA to call elections and change the perceived mismanagement of the club two years before it comes up for tender again.
Racing, one of the biggest clubs in Argentina, haven't even qualified for an international tournament in five years, and have won just one tournament in 40 years.
On top of that a matter of days before the beginning of this season, most of their technical staff quit, their star player Maximiliano Moralez left for Russia (before returning with a cold – maybe) and the rest of the players, who hadn't been paid for weeks, staged a walk out.
And to make matters even worse, Blanquiceleste Ltd, rented the stadium to their hated – really hated – rivals Independiente, while their new stadium was built.
The fans finally arrived outside the doors of AFA's downtown office at 7.30pm, but police had blocked the route, causing the barra brava to fight with heavy-handed officers resulting in 30 arrests and one policeman being taken to hospital after being hit by a flying bottle. The crowd were finally dispersed by water cannons.
And where, after all that, was Julio Humberto Grondona, AFA president since 1979? He had an appointment with the dentist.
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