Last Sunday in Arica people gathered in bars and living rooms to watch the "classico" of South American football - River Plate vs. Boca Juniors, the clash across the tracks and class lines of Buenos Aires. River won 1-0, with a goal in the first half, while Boca ended the game with 9 players and River with 10. Two of the sending offs were for double yellow cards, and one directly for a two-footed sliding tackle, while by the end of the game each side had three players with yellow cards. The referee has the reputation of being particularly officious, but I have to say that, apart from the second yellow card to one of the players sent off, it was all pretty richly deserved. For highly skilled players, the level of callous clumsiness wouldn't have been out of place indoors at the Queens Wharf Event Centre on a Monday night in Wellington.
Watch out for one Maxi Lopez, though. He was brought on by River as a replacement when Marcelo Salas limped off in the eighth minute, much to the disgust of watching Chileans. Bearing a striking resemblance to the bass player from Iron Maiden (like many of the players on both teams), he nevertheless seemed a class above anyone else on the field, and set up several goal scoring opportunities. If he isn't snapped up by a Spanish or Italian club soon, my name is Diego Maradona.