´No practica espanol´

QUITO

“Li! Li!”

“Ga! Ga!”

“Universitalia!”

Duke’s Cameron Craizes and all other supposed diehard U.S. sports fans don’t quite stack up to the intensity and passion expressed by Ecuadorian futbol fans.

The above chant is one of many rallying cries from the “loco faniticos” in support of Liga, my newly adopted team from Quito. It just so happens that the white-clad crew from the university area in Quito sits in first place in Ecuador’s professional league. The storied franchise is celebrating its 80th year and is the reigning champion of, well, just South America.

(OK. I hear the rumblings through the blogosphere. I didn’t just so happen to pick the New York Yankess of Ecuadorian soccer, however. I inherited the loyalty from my host madre, Lorene, after I moved into her house for two weeks this month. I liken my Liga allegiance to a Chinese boy being adopted by a family from the Bronx. If the family cheers for the Bronx Bombers, likely the boy will, too. Makes sense, right?)

After personal disappointment with not watching any English soccer, much less my adopted London team – Chelsea – while I studied abroad in London, I set out to make it a priority to see a futbol match in Ecuador.

I mentioned this to mi Ecuadorian madre at dinner one weekday night, and without provocation or expectation even, she set the whole thing up.

Come gameday against Deportiva, an average team also from Quito, Pessa and I were mumbling  chants in espanol and pumping our fists amid a sea of white Liga fans, including Lorene and her daughter, Mabel, but not Mabel´s boyfriend, Jorge, who cheers for a team in Guayaquil.

Mi familia, from left, Lorene, Mabel, Jorge and, of corse, Pessa.

Deportiva’s bowl-shaped home stadium was near capacity at 35,000, with 20,000 in Liga white. We got there two hours early to get quality general admission seats behind the north goal. Our Liga comrades in the south end displayed a banner “muerta blanco” or “die white.” (On a side note, Liga´s home stadium is ¨muy bonita,¨ Lorene said. Plus, it´s name is Casa Blanca. Nice.)

When Liga scored the game’s only goal 16 minutes into the first half, the white army could rival the decibel level of Vikings fans after a Brett Favre touchdown pass in the Metrodome.

As if Marv Alberts, mi madre Lorene called the goal with a series of shrill shouts of “Bien! Bien! Bien!”

Here’s their chant, which is akin to “Skoal Vikings:”

“Que se paren los liguistas!”

(“Stand up the fans of Liga!”)

“Yo te dare.”

(“I’m going to give you.”)

“Te dare Liga Hermosa!”

(“I’m going to give you beautiful Liga.”)

“Te dare una cosa”

(“I’m going to give you a thing.”)

“Una cosa que empieza”

(“A thing that starts.”)

“Con L, con I, con G, con A.”

(“With a L, with a I, with a G, with a A.”)

“Yo te dare.”

“Te dare Liga Hermosa!”

“Te dare una cosa”

“Una cosa que empieza”

“Con C”

“Campion!”

(“Champions!”)

Take that, Cameron Crazies, et al.

At halftime, the action didn’t cease. It only intensified.

… A little background first: The stadium is divided into quadrants by 10-foot-high, chain-link fences topped with barbed wire to keep rival fans away from each other and the field. Also, before the game, a group of heavily armed police men took their places around the stadium. Pessa questioned if their presence was excessive. …

But during the intermission, some Deportiva rebel fans snuck through an opening in the fence and into the Liga section and set off their team-colored smoke bombs. The aggression was equaled as Liga fans landed punches and kicks to their rivals’ bodies. The skirmish lasted a few minutes and was quickly broken up by the aforementioned guards. I guess we got our answer to whether the guards were excessive.

When Deportiva fans bellowed their chants in the second half, Liga fans would respond with the middle finger and swear-word salutations of “puta.”

Like all madres, Lorene was encouraging me to speak espanol during the game, but when the “punta” was routninely overheard, she quipped, “No practica espanol, Andy.”

G

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2 responses to “´No practica espanol´

  1. Another great one – thanks for capturing and sharing the experience.

  2. Andy’s team in London was actually Queen’s Park Rangers…pretty awful.

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