There is a distinct visual difference between sports’ fans in North America, and those in other parts of the world. In North America, you buy a ticket. You are assigned a seat, and you may well be sitting right next to a fan from the other team. Does it matter? No. It doesn’t really affect you at all. Sure, you are each cheering for your own team, and the guy next to you (because it is predominantly men) may be cheering for his, but you are both there to watch the game.
What strikes a visitor to the following premier field in Argentina (were tickets cost $100-400 a game)?
Barbed wire, fencing, police with hatchets. Are these footballers, or nefarious offenders? Are the athletes caged in here for a reason? Or are the fans caged out? There is barbed wire on the bathrooms. And fans sitting next to each other? I don’t think so. They each come in separate buses, must purchase separate tickets, and sit in separate sections of the stadium segregated again by….yes, barbed wire. When a game gets out, riot police line the avenues with batons and spray. It is all very tightly patrolled.
Why the difference? Is there more criminal activity at one? Is the criminal intent assumed or expected? Are sports’ fans in other parts of the world simply more passionate about their sport? What cultural seed grows into an angry fan, and which into an observing onlooker? What is the difference between anger and regard; uncontrolled passion and loyalty? How does the audience describe the country?
Weary of jail time, this view of the barb-arism drove us home past bright, open fruit stands and warm parillas. The fruit stands were still controlled - sculpted into tight pyramids of primary colours- and yet, they were inviting and visually relaxing in a way that spiky, sharp barbed wire just would never be.