Tough Crowd

My hometown football teams were trounced yesterday. If these were the late 1980s, I would be greatly depressed over the defeat of the Washington Redskins, who lost 36-0 to the NY Giants. John Riggins, Art Monk and Darrell Green no longer play for this American football team and my interest in that sport has diminished to practically zero.

The Cochabamba team Wilstermann also lost to Oruro’s San Jose placing in jeopardy their chances to move onto the next round in the tournament. It’s been a year since I’ve seen them play in the Felix Capriles stadium and I don’t recognize half of the names on the roster. I miss those days when my cousin and I wouldn’t miss a Sunday afternoon game and the chance to chomp on piping hot cheese empanadas.

Finally, my last team, DC United, which plays in Major League Soccer will not have the opportunity to defend its championship. At the hands of the Chicago Fire, DCU was embarrassed at home 4-0 in front of a crowd of nearly 20,000. It’s far better to lose convincingly than to lose in the remaining seconds or as a result of a fluke call. Bolivian flags could be seen throughout the stadium in honor of #99 Jaime Moreno, who is a finalist for league Most Valuable Player. Fans around me were frustrated and some booed the team as they entered their lockerroom at halftime, many just left before the game completed. That was the extent of the visible displeasure.

In Madrid, I saw a game between the local Atletico Madrid vs. Atletico Bilbao. The homeside played rather horribly and after the visitors took a one goal lead, the fans became increasingly impatient. When Bilbao scored its second goal, one fan in the next section cheered, as if he were turning on his own team for their poor play. At that, with about 30 minutes to go in the game, he grabbed his son and exited the stadium in disgust.

By far, Cochabamba fans are the most demanding that I’ve seen with their own team. Some say Wilstermann plays better on the road, than in front their own fans. Why? Because it seems that the local fans expect a goleada every match. Whistles, the South American version of booing, are heard at any hint of missed goal opportunities, even if Wilstermann was leading. I have also seen fans throw items, with an aim on the players, onto the pitch, such as full 2-liter bottles of Pepsi, water balloons, oranges, and bottle rockets. This is when they are losing at a crucial time in the season. At times, the police in full riot gear needed to protect players (even the local team) with their riot shields when taking corner kicks. With fans like that, who needs enemies?

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