My visit to la Bombonera, Maradona’s Boca Juniors. And why it was not so different from being in North Korea!

boca - overview stadium day

Pluripartism? No, not something for North Korea.

Well, not really something for Boca Juniors either.

The stadion, la Bombonera, is sold out. Only socios – members who pay a yearly fee – are allowed to get in. Some say that there are even people on a waiting list, paying their fee without enjoying the benefits and waiting for some member to renounce their seat (read: to die) so they can get an active membership.

What is certain, is that there are no seats for ‘visitors’ (‘enemies’) in the stadion. The full stadion is socio-only. Not even a seat for anyone undecided, or anyone who would just like to see a game every now and then. Be a socio member or stay home.

As the only trouble-free way to get in is to ‘borrow’ (read: rent) a socio’s membership card, I used an agency specialised in this kind of operation. I would have to use someone’s socio card; so I would have to pretend to be a fan myself.

While on the way to the stadium, we got a briefing – and immediately I felt back in North Korea. You don’t visit North Korea to judge or express a point of view, you go there because you want to hear the propaganda and experience it from the inside. Same goes about Boca Juniors.

The briefing went: “We are all Boca Juniors fans. Always have been. Boca Juniors is the best club in the world.” The briefing went on, North Korea style: “Don’t take photos around the stadium. We are not tourists. We are Boca fans.” Don’t try to challenge it. “Please do not support or pretend to support the other team. It’s not funny. People will kick you and may kick us out of the stadium.”

No pluripartism.

Entering the stadium under a fake identity and a fake purpose, I felt really like entering the North Korea colosseum where they keep the Kims’ bodies. Inside myself a big laughter – outside a very serious, controlled, respectful face while I was going through several security checks, pretending to be Celeste Lujan Zelaya, a Boca fan.

Boca - abono cardBoca - in stadium

As much as I enjoyed messages of love to the leaders and propaganda songs in North Korea, I enjoyed the many banners displayed and songs executed in a loving and disciplinary unison by supporters.

Boca - love message
The banner says: “I will always be at your side, my beloved Boca juniors”

Some fundamental differences between my visit to North Korea and my visit to Boca Juniors are worth mentioning though:

– North Korea was happy to have me as a tourist. This would be a good opportunity to showcase their best and vomit their propaganda to me. North Korea is so isolated it is dying for some attention from abroad. On the contrary, Boca Juniors doesn’t care about us mortals – so much that they don’t even care for their own fans. How arrogant: at the end of the game, the team’s players did not even bother salute their supporters even after those had been showing extreme faith and enthusiasm during more than 2 hours.

boca - mejor hincha del mundoBoca - gol

– However, there is no personality cult in Boca as there is in North Korea. I was expecting to see icons of Maradona everywhere. But apart from a painting on a side street wall close to the stadium, and to the double of Maradona who walks around Boca touristy neighbourhood hoping to get some spare change from money-wasting tourists against a photo, there was very little iconic about Diego and his god’s hand. Nobody actually wears a pin of Maradona on their chest.

Boca - me in front of field Boca - me in front of tribune

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2 thoughts on “My visit to la Bombonera, Maradona’s Boca Juniors. And why it was not so different from being in North Korea!

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