Argentinians agree it is the hottest derby in the country, the one of all excesses in a city deeply divided between its two clubs, Newell’s Old Boys and Rosario Central, now coached by Carlos Tévez. This Thursday, the classic rosarino once again paralyzed and inflamed the city of Messi, Bielsa and Di María. Real bullets, witchcraft, superstitions, stands filled with or without matches, unlimited lighters and tons of meat, a week’s chronicle in the heart of the volcano.
By Georges Quirino-Chaves, in Rosario
“I know a fan who remembers that one day his team won the derby when he was not in Rosario. Suddenly, this Thursday, he wants to take his car and drive to a gas station outside the city to listen to the game. » Claudio Giglioni, commentator on Cadena 3
A glance out of the vehicle window is enough to gauge this rivalry, bordering on hatred, which deeply divides the country’s third city. Here, the neighborhoods and streets are mostly painted in the colors of the two institutions. Mutual territories are thus well established, at the same time as places for drug sales barras bravas from Central and Newell’s backed by the narco family terrorizing the city. “We kill for our colors” , warns red and black graffiti. The threat is real. The day before, two artists who were completing a work representing Maradona and Messi wearing the leper* shirt were shot. The local press does not say so directly, but suspects supporters of the rival club. “The week off classic begins again in violence” , repeats most media. Last year, the statue of the father of the Newell institution was beheaded. In retaliation, Central headquarters had been subjected to throwing a Molotov cocktail.
“It’s always a week of huge excitement” , laments Claudio Giglioni, legendary voice of the two clubs’ broadcasts on the radio for more than thirty years. The sexagenarian, who vows to be neutral, claims to have commented more than 70 classics since the beginning of his career. “The first was Mario Kempes’ farewell match with Centralremembers the one who, in all sobriety, is nicknamed “the best” in Rosario. The day Kempes scores, that is hinchas of Newell’s dumped 12,000 bottles on the lawn. The match had to be stopped before the end. » This Monday, when Claudio arrived at the Cadena 3 studio in the city center, he especially had to slalom between the questions of supporters crossing the street. “Everybody I see is wondering if their team is ready for the game classic. Sometimes I even get on the air and message me if I talk more about Newell’s or Centralensures El Mejor. For others, it is already superstition week. I know a fan who remembers that one day his team won the derby when he was not in Rosario. Suddenly, this Thursday, he wants to take his car and drive to a gas station outside the city to listen to the game. »
Hell and black magic
Is it passion, madness or something else that guides almost 30,000 Newell’s Old Boys supporters to fill the stands at the Marcelo-Bielsa Stadium when there is no game scheduled on Monday night? Before each visit to the lawn at Central (in Argentina, movements of opposing supporters have been banned for nine years with exceptions, editor’s note)them hinchas red and black invite their players to a joint motivational session. They call it banderazo. A hallucinatory spectacle of an enclosure plunged into the darkness, lit by dozens of red smoke bombs stirred by thousands of people singing to break their voices. Hundreds of hysterics shake the fence. The little ones hold on to the barbed wire. A certain idea of hell. “It’s Newell’s!”rather means a young follower who must not be more than seven years old before he develops. On Thursday they have to put their balls! »
“Under their banderazo, we got together and did some witchcraft. It won’t do them any good. » Red
” Don’t think about that. Under their banderazo, we got together and did some witchcraft. It won’t do them any good.” trust very seriously “red” , a seven-year supporter of Central and friend of the late Roberto Fontanarrosa. This Tuesday, the bar el Cairo, emblem of the local intellectual community, paid tribute to the writer who died fifteen years ago. A master of literature “futbolera” Argentina, a hinchah Canailles* until death, as one of his mythical fictional characters. “I fell in love with Rosario for the art, literature and football discussed in cafes like this” , a moved Miguel Angel Russo, former coach of Central, is present in the audience. The town’s mayor, Pablo Javkin, a supporter of Newell’s, is also there. Not too stressed about security two days out classic ? A pout and a smile in response. No comment.
The next day, in front of the monument in tribute to the Argentine flag, symbol of the city, the politician poses with fifty children dressed in the jerseys of the two clubs. “We must be able to enjoy this clásico without violence” , will believe the mayor. The captains of the two teams also try to lower the temperature by participating in a joint press conference. This Wednesday is the highly respected day of friendship in Argentina. In Rosario, groups of friends meet to share a few drinks on the banks of the Paraná River. Among the festive ones, jerseys from Central and Newell’s don’t mix.
Spiderman, the fair and Carlitos
This Thursday, match day, the city wakes up in a thick, worrying fog. “Rosario is in merger” headlines daily El Ciudadano. “It’s the classic of good humor” better think The capital, the most important local duck. So great that more than 1000 representatives of the police cordon off the city and especially Gigante de Arroyito, where the match is to be played at 4.30pm. A surprising program, on a weekday, which does not prevent thousands of Central supporters from launching their huge late-morning aperitif around the stadium. “I told my boss I was sick. He laughed and let me go” laughs Majo, 46, a yellow and blue bucket hat on his head and a Santa Fe beer in hand. “Today is fair day! We can’t go to work!” , shouts Luciano, who is in his thirties, two grams two hours before the match. The Avellaneda boulevard leading to the enclosure is closed to traffic for more than a kilometer. The drums and songs resonate there as much as the smell of the countless mobile grills. “My meat is so tender it cuts with a spoon! » shouts a humble seller who has been setting up his stall since last night, classic mandatory. Next to him, a yellow and blue Spiderman bustles around selling masks. “I cannot reveal my true identity to you. All I can tell you is that Central is a carnival!” , he warns euphorically. A few minutes later, a very similar person takes off his Spidey mask in the press box to comment on the meeting for a partisan radio station.
“I hugged my brother in the locker room and said, ‘This is why we came here!’ » Carlos Tevez
More than 40,000 spectators fill the stands. Some who arrived late follow the meeting from the corridors of a stadium overflowing with chants to make the walls tremble. As the players enter, a giant flag covers the popular stand, and hundreds of yellow and blue flags fly everywhere else. Fireworks and fireworks – however prohibited – accompany the two teams until after kick-off. “It is a shame that it is a cardboard derby (Newell’s was the championship leader and Central 23rde out of 28 before the meeting, editor’s note) » , slips a journalist who laments the absence of stars in the two teams. Yet there is one. On the central bench, Carlos Tévez, who arrived a month ago at the head of a struggling team, observes the meeting standing and replaces his players in peace, even after the post hit by Newell’s, favorite to be the leader of the championship.
At 17:14, the earthquake. Carlitos’ men opened the scoring after a strike from Alejo Veliz, an 18-year-old boy from the club, overturned Gigante. Two minutes later, an agricultural bomb explodes fifty centimeters from the red and black goalkeeper. No one reacts. In the second half, we have to wait for the 82e minute to see some action. This is the moment when the referee of the meeting, Fernando Espinoza, picks up six lighters and a smoke grenade is swung at the corner taker of Newell’s protected by the shield of three policemen. “I know I’m gambling my future in this match” , the man in black had said in a stunning radio interview this week. There is no question of stopping the game in front of a crazy audience, freed from the nervousness of the week at the final whistle. “A minute’s silence for Newell’s who died” , shout the supporters. The giant screen proudly displays one “+16” as well as the new difference in victories in confrontations between villains and lepers. “I hugged my brother in the dressing room and said to him: “That’s why we came here!”» , says Tévez after the match. Outside the stadium and around the city, the Central supporters parade. Vintage yellow and blue jersey on the shoulders, Juan Cruz, 29, tastes at the end of Gigante:“I wanted to go on vacation, but I think I’ll stay in Rosario. I will be able to win them from Newell’s for a year. No question about leaving! »
By Georges Quirino-Chaves, in Rosario
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* The Lepers and Canailles are the nicknames of the supporters of Newell’s Old Boys and Rosario Central respectively.