It’s just past midday on Saturday and I’m already 10 minutes late when I arrive at the Estadio Nacional. My Uber driver wants to drop me off at the north end of the stadium; I try to explain to her that I have to go to the opposite side but she refuses to drive me, saying it’s too dangerous to drive in that area on derby day. Sweet, I’ll have to walk around the whole complex with all my equipment – and it’s a bloody long walk – taking at least 20 minutes to get there.
My mate, Pepe, a well-known local photojournalist starts to worry. After we sort out our accreditations, we’re ready for the 181st Chilean Superclásico between Universidad de Chile and Colo-Colo. No-one cares about the latter, everybody is here for the Blues today – except for those couple of thousand hardy away fans right next to the grandstand.
The other 40,000 are blue in the famous old arena, which was the venue for the 1962 World Cup final and later the cruelties of one of the most brutal dictators that ever existed, Augusto Pinochet. But forget about Colo-Colo and Pinochet and his regime. Today is all about the home side and their fiesta.
When we got to Galeria Sur – the South End – their famous barrabrava, called Los de Abajo (The Ones Below), are already on fire under the stand. Their band is blasting out well-known Latin American football songs surrounded by people singing and jumping. The whole place going mental, with the best of it yet to come. Giant flags, smoke, balloons, confetti and nonstop singing and jumping for 90 minutes. These is the barrabrava of La U.
Thanks to Pepe and the people of Los de Abajo for letting me go where cameras are not welcome usually.
By Bett Moron. Bett is currently working on a book about football culture in Argentina. You can check out his work on Instagram.