With Barcelona claiming the title without playing on Wednesday there was only the Copa Libertadores and last relegation place left to settle.
Despite losing 2-1 Independiente claimed a historic Libertadores place for the first time in their history. The minnows from Sangloqui are regarded as Ecuador’s best young team but it remains to be seen if they can step up to continental level. They will be joined by Barcelona, Emelec and Liga.
Macara put any fears of last day relegation behind them with a thumping 4 – 0 win against Deportivo Quito. The game was dominated by a dreadful refereeing display where he denied a legitimate goal, sent two players off and awarded a dubious penalty. Deportivo looked dreadful without Saritama (released) and Paredes (moved to Barcelona) and deserved the heavy defeat.
El Nacional beat Tecnico Universitario 3 – 1 to ensure their safety and condemn Universitario to the second division.
On Sunday it was back to the Atahaulpa Stadium to watch the current champions : Deportivo Quito against the champions elect: Barcelona.
Although i arrived with my friend at the stadium 15 mins before the game it took at least half an hour to get into the Atahaulpa. Long lines were snaked around the ground with the police doing their disorganised best to slowly, filter the throngs throw the narrow, turnstiles. One gate was for blue and red bedecked fans of Deportivo the others for the vast amount of yellow, Barcelona” hinchas”.
Only when Barcelona had scored and the many fans became restlessness did the police and authorities begin to shepherd the fans through at a acceptable rate.
Barcelona enjoy a huge support in both in Quito and Guayaquil and are probably only matched in popularity with Liga de Quito. Although the base of support is in Ecuador’s biggest city they can count on supporters from all over the country.
In much the same way Rangers and Celtic attract fans from all over Scotland, Barcelona and Liga gather the most fans from all over Ecuador.
In recent years the Quito teams have dominated league titles with Deportivo Quito, El Nacional and Liga sharing 9 titles between them. You have to go back to 1997 for Barcelona’s last title although city rivals Emelec did win the title in 2001 and 2002.
Upon entering the stadium it was clear that the Deportivo Quito fans or “chullas” were totally outnumbered by about 4-1. The yellow and black of Barcelona covered 70 % of the stadium and with their team already 1-0 up to a Nina header they were in fine voice.
Deportivo had only the main stand to fill and numbered around 6-7,000 but as their were some spare rows of seats the police began to funnel some yellow and black fans into the Deportivo end. This did not go down well with hardcore members at the front and they immediately rushed to confront to the opposition, forcing them back into the Barcelona section. A few bottles were thrown and insults traded but in truth it was little more than handbags from very, young looking “hooligans”. The riot police and their batons and Alsatians seemed to dampen their enthusiasm.
nI such an atmosphere it’s sometimes difficult to concentrate on the match, especially when you know Deportivo are so poor in front of goal and have little chance of scoring but the game ebbed and flowed with Barcelona seemingly content to let Deportivo attack.
Luckily, again we had the benefit of enthusiastic beer vendors and police were happy to let us stand at the back and peer over the crowd.
Much has been made in the Ecuadorian media about the country’s hooligan problem but in the 20-30 matches i have attended here in Quito I have yet to see some trouble bar the throwing of plastic bottles or the odd plastic beer cup. It’s certainly no where near the levels that the UK or Europe had but i guess it doesn’t take much for things to get out of hand. The police were very aware of the threat and quick to intervene.
The only kerfuffle in the terraces today happened in the Barcelona hoards in the south stand. A yellow shirted youth (my friend was convinced it was a girl but not I) was thrown around like a rag doll and unceremoniously booted and punched through throngs of people and out of the exit. It was unclear what he had done to deserve this treatment but it must have been bad as his own brethren turned on him. The police pounced on him and escorted him away.
In the end Barcelona won two nil, thanks to; some dreadful refereeing decisions, two Deportivo red cards, some dreadful Deportivo forward play and a wonderful free kick form Michael Arroyo in the 90th minute (who in turn was strangely red-carded).
The Barcelona fans were ecstatic at the end, knowing they had all but secured their first title in 15 years while the Deportivo Quito fans solemnly shuffled out of the Atahaulpa. A feeling they have known all to well in a disastrous season.
With 2 teams to be relegated from Serie A, El Nacional’s home victory against Macara will do much to allay their supporters fears.
After last week’s Derby defeat they were hovering around the relegation spots and although these 3 points moves them 3 points away with a game in hand they are not out of the woods yet.
As the the final league standings are calculated over two mini-seasons Olmedo look certain to fall into Serie B despite having a fairly impressive 2nd term,Macara and Tecnico Universitario (who currently sit 2nd of this term) have a battle to see who joins them.
At the top of the table Barcelona continued their arch to the title after a 1-o win at home to Quito giants, Liga. José Manuel Ayovi grabbed the winner just before half-time.
Elsewhere Independiente compounded Emelec’s misery from last week with a 2 – 0 defeat while Deportivo Quito recorded a 0-0 stalemate in Ambato versus Tecnico Universitario.
1 – 1
0 – 0
Independiente del Valle
2 – 0
2 – 1
Liga de Loja
2 – 1
1 – 0
Liga de Quito
In Serie B Deportivo Universidad Católica and Deportivo Quevedo ensured their promotion to Serie A after topping the hexagonal series.
The topic of racism is dominating English football just now. It has rumbled on since Luis Suarez’s altercation with Patrice Evra two seasons ago and last week came to a head with Rio Ferdinand’s refusal to wear a “Kick it Out Campaign” t-shirt.
Ferdinand obviously feels aggrieved with the 4 match ban that former England captain, John Terry received last week :after he used abusive language towards Rio’s brother, Anton in a game between QPR and Chelsea last year.
It’s hard to accept why the FA decided an 8 game was enough for Suarez while only 4 game ban for Terry.
On the face of it Terry was more culpable and he could hardly defend himself with “cultural differences”. His defence that he was only repeating what Anton Ferdinand has said seems pretty weak.
In South America they have a somewhat different view of race and abuse. Football players and people in general are regularly referred to as “negro” or “negrito” in reference to their darker skin and in Ecuador the people from the coast (who are generally Afro-Ecuadorian) are popularly called “Monos” or monkeys.
Similarly, if an Afro-Ecuadorian scores a goal in a league match here then the next days headlines will refer to “negrito” as the hero.
Personally, I find it strange that a person should refer directly to a persons skin colour or race. It’s open to debate to whether it is in a derogatory manner but regardless I,m fairly certain no person would want to be referred to as a monkey.
Maybe the South Americans are decades behind in their race-relation or maybe they are more relaxed than politically correct obsessed Europeans??
Every time I make a visit to the Atahaulpa Stadium I can’t help but make comparisons with back home. My usual judgement is that Ecuadorians have it so much better than in Scotland or the UK.
There is no doubt that British stadiums are safer but there over-sterilisation and sanitisation has ruined many aspects of the modern game. Many stadiums are glorified cow-sheds, little more than four banks of seats into which fans are herded like sheep.
No more apparent than this is Hampden Park where the famous Hampden roar has been replaced by the Hampden moan or muffled groan.
Hampden Park got a £20 millon re-fit a number of years ago. The end result was: a dissipation of the noise, an athletics track separating the fans from the pitch by at least 10 metres, 70,000 fans became 50,000 and a severely diluted atmosphere.
The Atahaulpa has not been touched for 50 years and the atmosphere is electric. The capacity has been reduced to 35,000 recently and you have the athletics track but it doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm.
On Friday my Dutch friend and I made our way through the fans, police and many touts. After a couple of aborted entries we finally managed to reach the general area of our seats but not before buying beers at the back of the stadium. As the game was already 5 minutes old and we didn’t want to annoy the other patrons in that dreadful cinema like shuffle through the crowds we stayed-put, aside the beer stand.
Everyone in the back row of seats (which is really a long, concrete block) were standing for a better vantage point. Behind them was a line of Police, some with dogs, all with batons and behind the Police I stood with my friend.Both of us a good foot taller than the rest.
In the two hours we stood there sipping our beers not one Policeman or woman asked us to move, sit down or find our seats. We were causing no problem nor blocking access, simply watching the game so the authorities left us alone. (The only hairy moment was when one of the Police Alsatians started to attack an imaginary assailant. Many wide eyed fans turned and looked on fearing that it could cause some dreadful chain reaction of biting hounds.In the end the mutt was shepherded away to safety).
And therein lies the biggest difference between the match experience in Latin America and the United Kingdom.
In Scotland you are constantly harassed by over-blown security guards and zealous quasi-authorities either wanting you to sit-down, pipe down or calm down. Some luminous jacketed dolt, who was too fat to become a real policeman or too dim to secure a respected job has to use his/her two hours of authority to dampen your match day experience.
And its only the proper fan who rises to remonstrate at the referee or roar his football song that gets reprimanded. If a burly troglodyte is shouting abuse or sectarian or racist bile the security guards are nowhere to be seen. The cowards only admonish the normal fan, knowing fine they won’t receive a smack in the mouth or verbal tirade in response.
On Friday, the Chilean supporters were situated right beside us, numbering about 2-3000 and they regularly intermingled on their way to the toilet or to get some food or more beer. There was no cordon of yellow nor line of Police, even when Chile took the lead there was little more than muffled insults and derogatory, hand signals.
In the end Ecuador won 3 – 1 to bolster their qualification chances for Brazil 2014. As the Ecuadorian fans shuffled out of the stadium many insults were traded with the glum looking Chileans. The usual cries of “chuta- madre” and “hijo de la chingada” were exchanged along with self-explanatory gestures that even a nun would understand.
In Scotland you would be probably hauled off to the Chateau D’If for such “anti-social” behaviour.
Ecuadorian football may have many flaws but I’d have their match-days, any day compared to the over-priced and over- bearing experience of home. Football in Ecuador maybe like football in Scotland 30 years ago.
Not such a bad thing considering where we are as a football nation now.