My first Latin football match

The police officer, wearing a fluorescent yellow coat, pointed to a wall of bodies blocking the top of the staircase.

“You’re up there,” she barked.

Great. We didn’t have seat numbers and we could hear that the match, Colombia versus Peru, had already started.

“You sure about this?” I asked Julian, our token Colombian.

He nodded and smiled at Saryah, Mikela and I. We had slightly overdone the ‘wrapping up warm’ element.

I found myself following the other three as they bounded up the stairs into the general north stand.

I couldn’t avoid the butterflies in my stomach.

I was expecting a tall, wicked wire cage encircling the pitch and I saw it the moment we fought through the crowd.

“Let’s go further down,” Julian said hurriedly, pointing through the wall of yellow shirts to a vacant row near the front.

We found four seats, which meant I could breathe again.

But I’m English. I hate those fences.

Still, once I relaxed, the match was a jolly affair. It was a friendly, which minimised the chances of aggression.

(That was fortunate, considering all 20 of the Peru fans who managed to travel, were sitting close to us.)

Now I meant to support Colombia. I really did.

But, just 15 minutes into the game, a Colombian midfielder took an appalling dive near the half way line.

Everyone around me shouted their indignation. The referee waited 30 seconds, then gave the cheating git a free kick.

“That was such a dive,” I grumbled to Julian.

He looked sheepish.

“Yeah, well you should see the Argentines,” he shrugged.

“They’re far worse than us.”

That is not the point, I thought. I hope Peru score now.

Sure enough, minutes later, a Peruvian slammed home a Steven Gerrard-esque effort on the volley.

Oops. That was probably my fault.

“Oh, it’s always the same with this team,” Julian groaned.

“They have all the potential, all the talent. They do all the work to get the ball up front, but they just can’t score.”

Try supporting England, I thought.

Still, I was relieved to see the crowd seemed irritated rather than angered by the scoreline.

But I couldn’t resist watching one Colombian fan climb onto his friend’s shoulders.

He reached towards an I LOVE PERU banner. The words were carefully painted on a long strip of brown paper, which was hanging neatly from the stand above him.

I watched the boy tear the word LOVE out of the banner.

I tried not to giggle as the stout Peruvian man standing next to the sign, probably the artist, rolled his eyes and tutted. He looked deeply disappointed by such unnecessary vandalism.

“What happened?” Julian asked, turning round.

“Oh, a lad back there ripped a piece out of one of the Peruvian banners,” I said, hiding my giggles.

“No, really?” he replied, entirely seriously.

“But come on Vicki, you do have football hooligans in your country too you know.”

I laughed. That is not hooliganism.

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