Sunday, February 27, 2011

Santa Fe Celebrates its 70th

Today, Bogotá's Ciclovía was invaded by hundreds of red, screaming, flag-waving youths. Communist revolutionaries? Fanatic followers of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez?

Don't let that red star fool you. They were supporters of the Independiente Santa Fe football team.

The march forced cyclists onto the sidewalk.
Together with Millonarios, Santa Fe is one of two traditionally dominant Bogotá teams, and the two carry on an intense rivalry. Since the end of the era of the drug barons with their sackfulls of money, Colombia has generally disapppointed in international football competition. Even though futbol is the unquestioned king of sports here, and Colombia has the same population as Argentina, Colombia's national team didn't even qualify for the last three World Cups.

Colombian football hasn't quite escaped the notoriety of the 1994 murder of national team member Andres Escobar just days after he'd scored an own goal during the World Cup. And the professional football league is still trying to break connections with drug cartels.

Watching out for trouble.
For its part, Santa Fe is a perpetual contender, but last won the Colombian professional football championship in 1975. But what they lack in trophies, Santa Fe's fans make up with enthusiasm and decibels - but sometimes also violence. The barras bravas, gangs of drunken fans who fight and have even killed one another, are a chronic problem in Colombia - probably explaining the many cops escorting these celebrating fanaticos.

The littered aftermath. 
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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