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Boca Juniors & River Plate Fan Rivalry and History

Boca Juniors & River Plate Fan Rivalry and History

Article by: Mitchell Grimes

Mon, Sep 06.21

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  • Boca Juniors & River Plate Fan Rivalry and History

    The Origin of the Superclasico and the rivalry between River Plate and Boca Juniors dates back to the early 1900s. River Plate was founded in 1901 and Boca Juniors 4 years later in 1905, both in La Boca, a neighbourhood of Buenos Aeries in Argentina. River moved to Núñez, in the north of the city in 1925 which was a much more affluent area. Since the move, Boca has been seen as the club of the working class, with many fans being Italian immigrants who escaped Italy during the war. River on the other hand are nicknamed Los Millionaires (The Millionaires) with a much more upper-class support base and tended to splash the cash on players in the early days. 

    River Plate fans like to see attractive, champagne football, known for the three Gs; Gustar (to play well), Ganar (to win), Golear (hammer/smash/score a lot of goals). Boca’s philosophy is all about the Garrar (the claw), they expect players to put in 100% effort, and do whatever it takes to win. Despite the differing philosophies, the clubs are by far the two most successful clubs in Argentina, River Plate holding 36 Primera División titles, and Boca 34. Boca supporters like to call River fans ‘gallinas’ (Chickens) because they’re weak, lack guts and have no fighting spirit. River fans call Boca ‘los chanchitos’ (little pigs) and ‘bosteros’ (Pig Collectors) because they’re from a more disadvantaged area that stinks. 

    In 1968 at the El Monumental (River Plate’s stadium) 71 fans were killed in a crush and a further 150 fans were injured. The crush is the worst incident in the history of Argentinian football with the average age of the victims being just 19. To this day no one really knows what started the crush, with both sides blaming each other. River claim that the crush happened after Boca fans lit River flags on fire causing a stampede and Boca say that it happened after River fans arrived at the Boca section, causing the stampede of the visiting fans. Others just say that the exit to gate 12 was locked and the fans and the back couldn’t hear and kept piling in. The tragedy was investigated by the government and police, and after 3 years no one was found guilty, much to the disappointment of the victim's families. 

    The rivalry hit new levels in 2011 when River Plate were relegated to the second division for the first time in 110 years. Boca fans celebrated like they had won the title. They paraded around the streets, treating the relegation as River’s funeral, with red and white paper mache coffins. These celebrations were led by La 12, the Boca Juniors Ultras fan group.  

    La 12 was founded in 1970 and their name dates back to 1925 when Boca Juniors went on their first-ever European tour, a fan travelled with the squad and was dubbed the 12th player. The River Plate Ultra group are known as Los Borrachos del Tablón, (the drunks of the stadium) which is pretty self-explanatory. Ultra fan groups in Argentina aren’t just about supporting a team, the more powerful ultras can earn a living off of; club merchandise, parking, tickets, and it is reported that some even receive a percentage of transfer fees and player wages.



    Rafael di Zeo is the current leader of La 12, taking over in 1994 from Jose Barrita who was imprisoned for the murder of 2 River Plate fans. Di Zeo is rumoured to be involved in numerous illegal activities but would never be seriously punished because of the amount of power he holds in Buenos Aries. He was only once imprisoned for violent crimes for 56 days and his return to La Bombonera (Boca’s stadium) was celebrated by the local press as if a celebrity was in attendance. 

    Los Borrachos del Tablon also have a long history of crime and violence with La 12 as well as internally. In 2007 the firm had essentially split in two, with leaders Adrian Rousseau and Alan Schlenker fighting for power. The groups were fighting on and off, eventually leading to the murder of Rousseau’s right-hand man Gonzalo Acro, who was shot three times. Most of Los Borrachos influential leaders are behind bars or wanted for murder and criminal activity but the group remains as strong as ever. 

    The Superclasico will always be known off the pitch for the passion and hatred of the supporters and the violence of the two ultra groups. The passion continues on the pitch for the players and has produced some of the best players and moments in Argentinian football to date.

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