Football - FACTBOX-Boca Juniors and River Plate historical background

Some facts and background surrounding the "superclasico" derby between Boca Juniors and River Plate.


* Superclasico is the name for the biggest derby in Argentine football which has numerous "clasicos". The next biggest in Buenos Aires is Independiente against Racing Club in the suburb of Avellaneda.

* Xeneixes: Boca's nickname, meaning Genovese in dialect after the large number of immigrants from the Italian port city of Genoa who settled in La Boca, a poor barrio of Buenos Aires, at the mouth (boca) of the Riachuelo river that flows into the Rio de la Plata (River Plate), where both teams were founded, River in 1901 and Boca 1905.

* Millonarios: River's nickname from 1931, the first year of professional football in Argentina when they paid 10,000 pesos, a huge sum, for winger Carlos Peucelle. After finishing third in the 1931 championship, River spent 105,000 pesos strengthening their squad, paying Tigre a then world record 35,000 for striker Bernabe Ferreyra, and winning the title in 1932 with Ferreyra as top scorer with 42 goals.

* La Bombonera (Chocolate Box): Boca Juniors' peculiarly shaped stadium tucked between a street and railway tracks with two decks of stands on one side and two tiers of terraces at either end. The fourth side is a vertical section of boxes. The tightly enclosed shape adds to the cauldron atmosphere.

* Gallinas (chickens): Rivals' nickname for River since 1966. River lost 4-2 to Uruguay's Penarol in the Libertadores Cup final that year after leading 2-0. In their next league match they played at Banfield, whose fans threw a chicken onto the pitch. The nickname was reinforced at the next "superclasico" at River's Monumental when the home team lost and the newspaper Cronica ran a headline: "This chicken run is closed for lack of eggs (guts)."

* Bosteros: Rivals' nickname for Boca from the word "bosta", meaning dung. La Boca used to be prone to flooding when the Sudestada, southeastery wind, whipped up the Rio de la Plata and the excrement in the sewers came back onto the streets of the barrio. Late River playmaker and coach Angel Labruna would walk onto the pitch at La Bombonera holding his nose.

* Names and colours: When football took hold in Argentina at the turn of the 20th century, it was popular to give newly-founded teams an English name, hence Boca Juniors, who took their colours from the flag of a Swedish ship that happened to be in port at the time of their founding. River Plate, who wear white shirts with a red diagonal band, took their name from the English version of Rio de la Plata stamped on crates of imported goods from Britain in the port of Buenos Aires. (Compiled by Rex Gowar; editing by Toby Davis)

View comments (0)