Friday, 8 May 2009

Derby Day

I doubt whether you'd find the Rosario derby listed in '100 Sporting Events to See Before You Die' unlike the Superclásico or the University Boat Race (never understood that one). In a country where derbies happen every weekend in or around Greater Buenos Aires there is an argument from certain quarters suggesting that this provincial city clásico is somewhat overlooked by the Bs As centric media (NB both Boca and River have departed Rosario in recent weeks, trousers down and point-less). In light of this Rosario Central and Newell's Old Boys have done their bit over the last week to ensure that events surrounding this clash make the news even in the Capital.

With the match being played at Rosario's Gigante de Arroyito stadium the thorny issue of ticket allocation for the visiting Newell's fans was the spark that led to disturbances, recriminations and mud-slinging. In short Newell's have been given 3500 tickets for the game where in the past they have received 8000; a gentleman's agreement between the clubs they believe should still be honoured. Furious Newell's fans marched on Rosario's stadium earlier in the week with inevitable results, 15 arrests and 7 injuries when they clashed with police and Canallas (Rosario fans) intent on guarding their 'manor'. In the interim relations have soured between the two clubs. Rosario president Horacio Usandizaga has done little to calm matters with his most recent outbursts claiming that Newell's incited the violence and a bizarre reference to an old Jewish proverb about prefering theives to liers when speaking of the Newell's president. The authorities responsible for match security were the other target for his ire.

Recently elected Newell's president Guillermo Lorente has been admirably restrained to date and has tried to put the match into perspective - a difficult task in football crazed Argentina 'this should be a fiesta, not a war'. Two days before kick-off and the opening skirmishes in this 'war' look set to continue.

If you would like to read a fans eye view from the Newell's side of this game be sure to visit A Leper in a Strange Land ( David Phillips excellent and unashamedly biased take on all things Leper.

Hasta luego!