CA Boca Juniors
La Boca TangoIn 1905, a group of Italian immigrants who lived and worked in the port of a south-eastern barrio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, decided to found a football club. They agreed to honour their poor riverside neighbourhood named ‘La Boca’ (the mouth of the river). Today, the club has grown into arguably the biggest in South America - Club Athletico Boca Juniors (CABJ).
Boca Juniors are regarded as the club of the working class people of Argentina. At the heart of La Boca sits the clubs stadium - Estadio Alberto J. Armando, aka La Bombonera (The Chocolate Box). La Bombonera has an amazing and intimidating atmosphere, and is renowned for vibrating when the fans start to jump in rhythm. In particular, the unique 3-tiered vertical side will sway slightly, leading to the phrase 'La Bombonera doesn't shake: it beats (like a heart).' (La Bombonera no tiembla. Late)
Boca's notoriously passionate fans have a host of nicknames, one of most popular being 'La 12' or 'La Doce', in reference to the fans being the '12th man'. The club today has a worldwide fan-base due to its world-record haul of international titles, and the success of ex-players who became global starts in European football. Players such as Enzo Ferrero, Fernando Gago, Claudio Caniggia, Gabriel Batistuta, Juan Román Riquelme and Carlos Tévez. Their most famous son is Diego Maradona, a lifelong Boca Juniors fan, and widely regarded as the greatest player of all.
Over the years La Boca has become a sought after tourist attraction for those wishing to experience a genuine slice of Argentinean culture. Its colourful walkways and rectangular conventillo houses, set amongst the colonial cobbled streets are the identity of La Boca. The earthy flavour and vibrant character of the Caminito, the main walkway through the district, is a bombardment of music and dance. It is representative of the old immigrant La Boca where the genesis of Tango originated.
Behind the street performers of today, the tango dancers, musicians and souvenirs sits a rich history of radical politics. For social and economic reasons, La Boca has always been a cauldron for change and the region elected the first socialist member of the Argentine Congress (Alfredo Palacios in 1935). Combine the style of the tango and the passion for politics with a feverish devotion to its football club you get a glimpse into the soul of La Boca.
"Amidst the tango dancers and pavement painters, there are statues and murals depicting Maradona on almost every corner of La Boca, immortalising him as a social and sporting revolutionary. The most solid remembrance is a large bronze statue at the entrance to the museum at La Bombonera"