- BBC News World
More than 15,000 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro, where Brazil and Argentina play the final of the Copa América this Saturday, the passion for the two giants of South American football often reaches excessive limits.
In a rural area of Bangladesh, in Southeast Asia, the police have had to ban crowds for the final after riots and clashes between fans.
The rivalry between the followers of the green love and the albiceleste comes from afar in the South Asian country.
And this Wednesday, after certifying the passage to the final of both teams, the disputes convulsed.
It started with an argument between two fans about which country plays soccer better. After a while, the exchange of opinions became a street battle.
Fans of both teams faced punches and slashes in Brahmanbaria, 120 kilometers east of the capital Dhaka, according to local police chief Mohammad Amranul Islam to the AFP agency.
Cricket is Bangladesh’s main sport, but this former British colony of 168 million people becomes a hotbed of passion for soccer with each World Cup or America’s Cup.
Where does passion come from?
The craze for the Argentine team began in Bangladesh during the World Cup that was played in Mexico in 1986.
In that contest, many Bangladeshis were captivated by the performance of Diego Armando Maradona, who led his team to the title.
His most memorable match, that of the “hand of God” and the “goal of the century” against England in the quarterfinals, marked a generation.
“The hand of God also generated a fierce debate here, although most chose to ignore it because the memory of the war in the Malvinas (or Falklands) was still alive in the minds of Bangladeshis,” relates a column in the Bangladeshi national newspaper. Dhaka Tribune.
This conflict faced England and Argentina in 1982. The victory of the albiceleste in 1986 was seen by many as a vindication against British might.
A sentiment that was also shared in Bangladesh, which for nearly 200 years, until 1947, was part of the old colonial India under maximum British influence.
Sowed with a passion for Argentina, it antagonized those who sympathized with Brazil, its greatest rival on the continent.
“As a ‘third world’ country, Bangladeshis connected very well with Latin American countries, who had also suffered the same economic damage and exploitation from the West “, explains the article by Dhaka Tribune.
Islam, the chief of the police in Brahmanbaria, declared that they were on alert before the final this Saturday, which will be seen on Sunday in Bangladesh because of the time difference.
“We have told the inhabitants that they cannot watch the game on big screens. We visit the villages and communicate that they cannot crowd during the final,” Islam said.
The millions of fans from Argentina and Brazil place the flags of their favorite countries at home and parade through the streets in their jerseys.
It is on these occasions when problems often arise.
During the 2018 World Cup, a 12 year old boy inor electrocuted while placing a Brazilian flag on a pole of the street power line.
Another man and his son were seriously injured when supporters clashed in the central Bandar sub-district.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.