Our eccentric hostel manager warned us before heading to the football match in Medellin “Go and put your bags away. Don’t take anything with you. People will rob you, not just rob you but rob you with knives and guns”.
To be honest some friends and I have become a little tired of people over-dramatising the dangers. Foreigners go to the football all the time and make it out alive. Obviously its important to take precautions as always. So I smuggled my camera down my top and off we went.
We arrived and then our next round of warnings as the tickets friends had purchased were for the Sur stand. That is where all the die-hard fans or Medellin equivalent soccer hooligans go. It is dangerous there we were told. By everyone. We tried to change seats but it was impossible.
I was nervous after all the warnings but once we arrived I think I would have been disappointed to sit anywhere else. The atmosphere was electric, like being at a rock concert. I’ve never seen more passionate supporters. There was a full brass band playing the Nacional supporter songs and the whole crowd sang and danced along to the trumpets and drums for the entire match. Except ofcourse for the only foreigners in the stand! We had a bit of banter with some people in the crowd. Some dolled up Paisa (Medellin local) girls who looked about 16 with DD breast enlargements (very common here) and some very smiley Paisa guys.
Extreme measures are taken here to ensure there is no trouble at the football match. A high level of security obviously, I was told later over 50 knives were confiscated from fans on their way into the stadium. No alcohol served at the stadium (people load up at the nearby bars beforehand). But by far the most extreme precaution – only one fan base is allowed into the stadium. The stadium was literally half empty with only Nacional supporters. That didn’t stop the passion, after half time when Nacional came back to the field the crowd became a sea of white launching streamers over the entire stadium.
Another fantastic experience!