Free Hand Jobs at the Medellin Futbol Match

Nacional Futbol Stadium in Medellin, Colombia

Futbol in Argentina is intense, no doubt about it. I’ve experienced the pre-game antics and popular insanity at the Stadiums of Velez, River, Racing and Boca (pre-game only) in Buenos Aires.

They were wild, sketchy and intimidating, but nothing in Argentina prepared me for the madness that is Colombian futbol (soccer) in Medellin.

There are 3 Division 1 professional soccer clubs in Medellin, which include Atlético Nacional, Envigado F.C. and Independiente Medellín. It’s pretty cool considering the capital, Bogota, only has 2 Division 1 futbol squads (Millonarios and Independiente Santa Fe).

Last weekend one of my old roommates, Jesse, invited me down to Atanasio Girardot Stadium where Nacional was playing Junior from Cali, Colombia. The stadium and surrounding complex is incredible, it’s right downtown and is home to the nicest basketball courts and swimming facilities in the city. However, when you step off the metro on game day you’re surrounded by ticket hawkers, jersey salesman and young kids getting tuned up.

We joined the mob after meeting up with a Colombian friend for some pre-game beers and street meat. Although it was my first Medellin soccer experience, I’m not one to sit in a “neutral” section, so we asked around and bought 3 tickets in the south side popular for 25,000 COP (about $14US/each). The popular is basically the hood of the stadium. It’s where all the intense fans go to cheer, smoke, fight and charge down the stands on every goal. For me, it’s the only way to experience the action.

As we finished our beers to head into the stadium, a giant German Sheppard came up and thoroughly inspected us. Un-phased, moved on and led a police squad towards the entrance as we followed close behind. Not 30 seconds passed when the drug dog sunk his teeth into the back pocket of a young teen’s blue jeans. The police quickly surrounded the kid and without much hassle the boy reached deep into his underwear and pulled out 5 or 6 little bags of white magic.

The kid handed over the bags as the cops signaled him to go get back in line.

I paned out and quickly realized all the action that was going on around me. Kids are stashing things deep into their socks, girls are putting stuff down their shirts, cops are snatching people out of line all as drug dogs search the perimeter while kids try to find other people’s stashed product before the dogs do. You got heavily armed guards that look like ninja turtles against 14, 15, 16 year old kids rolling the dice. This shit is crazy.

Police Ready for Nacional Football Match in Medellin

My turn came and I stepped up and assumed the position as a young guard proceeded with the pat down. I made a big, split-second mistake.

As his cold, gloved hand reached deep down into my pants, and the boys shriveled up like cooked bacon, we somehow made this super awkward eye contact that stopped the search in its tracks. He pulled away a little bit and I just froze.

He looked at me like “Hey, a hand job is still a job.”

I just put my head down and quickly took off towards the south side outer-gate entrance for reach around number 2. At this gate, you have to show your ticket and license. Also, a large number of belts are confiscated at this checkpoint for security. Everything should have been fine, I was still drug free and belt-less. However, Jesse who is a blond hair, blue eyed American forgot to bring his license. The guards immediately kicked him out of the line.

This is the great part… the giant mob waiting behind us caught wind that Jesse was a foreigner and quickly rallied behind him. It seems like anything against the police is ground for support.

“You sons of bitches Police let the foreigner in, let the foreigner in you bastards”

The crowd made way for Jesse and pushed him back in line and through the police barriers to the front of security. They chanted and screamed and some people already in the stadium dropped shit down on the guards below. To stop a mini-riot the police gave Jesse the pass.

Security Checkout for Nacional Soccer Match in Medellin, Colombia

The second body search was uncomfortable, but professionally done. I kept my head down and eyes closed so there was no chance for error this time. The only white stuff he found was a little residue from my daily baby powder splash.

I couldn’t believe the process of getting into the stadium. In Argentina that never happened, people just bum-rushed the entrance and the police were only concerned about keeping rival fans separated. Here in Colombia, excessive knives and contraband give reason for heighten security I guess.

Once inside the stadium however, it was futbol like anywhere. We positioned ourselves towards the front, as the south side stands filled up fast with people and weed smoke. I still don’t know how those little bastards got all that weed in. Unlike stadiums in Argentina, they basically lock you into this area, there is virtually no police presence.

View of Nacional soccer winning from the popular section in Medellin

Nacional dominated the entire match against the slow, sloppy play of Junior. The futbol itself wasn’t at the caliber of most Argentina clubs, but Nacional was super fast and their strikers kept the pressure on all night giving Nacional the win, 4-1.

Soy de Verde! Y Verde Soy Yo!

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3 Responses to Free Hand Jobs at the Medellin Futbol Match

  1. Aunt Chris

    Too bad the game wasn’t as good as the arrival antics!

  2. Gareth

    It was definitely exciting, but nothing like the chaos at the entrance. At the game this weekend there was a huge brawl and they threw somebody off the top level. That would have been interesting to see.

  3. I have always wanted to see a game in South America. The fans seem fanatical and I’ll bet the atmosphere is amazing,
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