Murals, Malvinas, and Maradona
To Argentina and Buenos Aires, with our photographer Agustin Belachur. Agustin, 31, works as a reporter for TyC Sports, the most popular sports channel in Argentina. He presents the shows "Paso a Paso" and "Libero", telling stories of Argentinean football and its incredible fans. His photos captured football fan culture in a number of stadiums, as well as the murals and street art of the "Grupo Artístico de Boedo”.
Who is in the photos?
The majority of the photos focus on the supporters because I consider that without them, there would be no sense in this beautiful craziness that accompanies the most magnificent game in the world, football. Just like in every corner of the planet, the fans bring a special touch to football in their country, but Argentina is more emphatic or maybe different.
What did you try to show with the photos? Was there any wider meaning with the photos?
In my country, the result of the game changes the mood of the fans but not definitively because they have their own spirit, independent of the result, and they could even be another player on the field helping the team. There are photos of supporters of Argentine football like Racing, San Lorenzo, and Boca - at the Racing Stadium, El Cilindro de Avellaneda, during one of the Copa Libertadores matches, and at the Bombonera (Boca Juniors Stadium) field on December 12th (Boca Fans Day).
The Nuevo Gasómetro (San Lorenzo Stadium) shows the San Lorenzo supporters, the most creative fanbase in Argentina according to Diego Maradona, and I also captured Atlético Tucumán fans at the Argentine Cup Final 2017 in Mendoza, where Atlético Tucumán played River Plate. In one photo you can see two passions combined. There are a lot of supporters of Boca Juniors waiting to enter the stadium and one man is preparing one of the most popular street foods in Argentina, “Choripán”.
What is the meaning of the street art and murals?
Boedo is the neighbourhood that gave birth to San Lorenzo and at the same time is the neighbourhood with the most murals and street art in the City of Buenos Aires. Mainly the "Grupo Artístico de Boedo” ("Artistic Group of Boedo") gives colour to the neighbourhood, but there are many groups of artists in Boedo.
One mural shows is Father Lorenzo Massa, who was a priest and one of the founders of the San Lorenzo de Almagro Athletic Club in 1908. Osvaldo Soriano, who was one of the most renowned writers in the country and was a fanatic, is pictured next to him. In another mural there are people with the shirt of San Lorenzo and the Argentine National Team, next to them are the Malvinas Islands and the phrase: "If it is a question of fighting, we will be there". The fan of San Lorenzo was always characterised by defending his rights as a fan and also by supporting the club in bad times.
Another mural mixes the “Viejo Gasómetro” (the old San Lorenzo stadium) and a pine that is an emblem of the town of San Lorenzo (Santa Fe), where San Martín won the first victory in the liberation of America at the Battle of San Lorenzo. Lastly we see the shield of Chapecoense inside the shield of San Lorenzo, under the motto: "Boedo is with you". This was after the tragedy suffered by the Chapecoense team in 2016.
Why is football so important for Argentina and Argentinean people?
Soccer in Argentina is the great passion of the people. Argentines love soccer and some even place their club, illogically, above the family and other really important things in life. In turn, this passion grows in the Argentines who take refuge in football to escape the reality of the country. Argentina always suffered economically and that is why the people somehow seek to isolate themselves from the bad personal moments by going to the ground.
What role does football play in Argentina and Argentinean society?
The role of football is very important in society and many government decisions that affect society are taken during a World Cup or when an important match of the championship or the Copa Libertadores is about to be played as the society is "Distracted."
What does football mean to you?
Football for me is a passion that allowed me to meet another passion that is my team, San Lorenzo de Almagro. At the same time football presented me with sports journalism and that is the profession to which I dedicate myself. Many aspects of my life revolve around football, either when I take photographs or when I'm traveling in some city in the world. I always think about soccer.
What is the future for Argentinean football?
In the future it is not known what can happen but I would like a more ordered Argentine football to accompany a more orderly society. The passion will always exist in the hearts of Argentines but I would like a football society with a rationality quota.