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By Greg Mockos

 

This is part three of a five part series about different styles of supporter culture from around the world.  You can get caught up with part one on the English style and part two on the Continental European style of support.

The South American Style

The South American style ofsupport is in all essence very similar to the continental European style described above and developed in mostly the same fashion. South American support developed mostly in the 70s and 80s and was influenced less by politics than continental European support. The uniqueness of South American support is the extent to which chanting, singing and tifo are displayed during games and leading up to games. The most distinguishing factors about South American support are the incessant songs, some of which lasting entire halves of matches, and the continuous display of tifo in the supporter section, better known as la barra.

South American support is the continental European style of chants and tifo taken to the extreme. There are less choreographed displays as seen in Europe and the tifo that is displayed is displayed for a full 90 minutes in most cases. Supporting in a South American terrace appears to be exhausting and non-stop. It is an expression of infinite dedication both mentally and physically. Capos are present but are less prevalent as the duration of the songs does not require capos in as much a formal role as in continental European groups. Another component of South American terraces that greatly distinguishes them from other types of support is the presence of a myriad of instruments from brass to drums. It is not uncommon to have 100s of instruments in a section playing along with the songs to a deafening cacophony of sounds. This cacophony is typically the tipping point for those that are asked to decide whether the South American style of support is their favorite. Often times the South American barras may sound disjointed or disorganized, but that is intentional as the buzz coming from a barra is electric and continuous. It is a matter of taste.

In addition to the cacophony of sound emanating in the South American style is the random appearance of their terraces or curves. The tifo, the banners, the flags, the umbrellas are all piled on top of each other covered in smoke and confetti. This overwhelming dose of tifo and the constant singing make a South American terrace breathe like an intimidating beast that bears the colors of the home team.

In regards to the organizational component, the barras are fairly organized in the same fashion as most continental European groups with the added layer of supporter community on top. Community plays a huge role in South American barras with the supporter group extending into almost all parts of a supporter’s life and community. To a certain extent a south American supporter group is a giant living organism whose members support does not merely start and stop with the referee whistle. This is where South American supporters truly excel. This element is often seen pregame at matches where supporters congregate in massive marches or pre game festivities. It is this element that South American groups truly have brought to the next level when it comes to supporter culture, even though they were not the first to invent it. South American supporter groups are not known as much for their away travel. This is not to say that away support is not a common occurrence, but the infrastructure limitations make it more difficult to follow teams when they play away from home.

In the South American style you show up to the barra’s end home and away with the expectation to give 100% of your body and soul to your team on the field by never stopping chanting or spinning that umbrella or wave that flag. In certain respects, there is a feel that, if the players on the field can run for 90 minutes, then the supporter can support non-stop for 90 minutes. 

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