The unthinkable happened today, and River Plate has descended into the B League of Argentine soccer. I went to a pizza bar to watch the game at 3 pm and the place soon filled up with River fans. Within the 5th minute River scored a goal and you could feel the tension ease a bit. The first half belonged to River, but as the second half began you could tell that Belgrano was making a push. They didn’t have to win the game, but all they had to do was not lose by 2 goals. And you should already guess what happened. Belgrano scored to tie the game at 1-1, and from then on it was a desperate push that River could not complete.
The game couldn’t even be finished because by the 44th minute of the second half, raucous fans began to throw objects onto the field. The game was suspended and River was demoted. Just like that. The TV showed fans ripping apart the seats and throwing them on the field, taunting the police and trying to jump over barbed wire fences with their bare hands. Both teams had to move to the center of the field and were surrounded by dozens of policemen and security guards, waiting around while trying to figure out how to leave safely. In the meantime, you could see them crying, as well as about 60,000 grief-stricken fans. I’ve never seen anything like it–fully grown men crying in agony and clutching their heads as if the world was ending.
The madness ensued and is still going on, as angry fans began rioting and fighting with the police. Smoke was rising into the Buenos Aires skyline by sunset and the news is still showing riotous fans who can’t believe that for the first time in 110 years, their team has been humiliated in this way. It might not be the worst soccer riot ever, but it’s certainly a stain on Argentine soccer.