This last Friday I got the privilege to be invited to go to a Honduran soccer game at the San Pedro stadium with my Honduran friends. Let it be known that going to any Latin American soccer game is not just any kind of sports game, it’s a life-changing experience. No seriously, you’re not allowed to call it anything other than a life-changing experience. Why? It’s simple. If we look at these professional statistics, we can see exactly why it’s such a serious matter:
So, now that the mathematics are clear, you can understand why it’s such a big deal, right? Good. I think I should tell you guys that I wasn’t just taken to any old game at the stadium – I was taken to THE World Cup qualifying game, Honduras vs. Costa Rica. GRATIS! I know, my friends are the coolest Hondurans ever. Anyway, what I experienced will always be implanted in my memory. It was exciting, but also caught me off-guard quite a bit. So, for all my gringo friends out there wanting to one day go to a Honduran (or any Latin-American) soccer game, here’s a quick guide of how to fit in at the game.
Honduran Soccer Games – For Dummies
A helpful guide for inexperienced gringos
1. When trying to enter the stadium, remember, there is no such thing as personal space, there’s only one super tiny door to go through, and it’s best to just shove every single person standing in your way. Lines are time-consuming, and clearly the best, least time-consuming way to get through that baby-sized door is to make sure everyone tries to shove their way in at once. You might lose a shoe, or a small child; but really, it’s for the sake of soccer, so who really cares anyway? Grab on to the biggest person in front of you and PUSH like a woman in labor. Try your best not to accidently shove one of the armed guards with the AK-something-or-others strapped around their waist.
2. You don’t just sing the National Anthem, you go Christina Aguilera on it. I know as gringos we’re used to just putting our hand over our heart and sometimes mumbling out the words, but that won’t cut it here. No, you better make the country next door hear your pride. Have a bad voice? So does everyone else at the stadium! You’re an honorary Catracho/Catracha for a day, and you better take pride in that. The national anthem isn’t only about singing either, you also get to look a giant banner that takes up at least 1/4 of the crowd and says “Orgullo Catracho” (Proud Honduran) on it. Just pretend like it says “‘Merica, heck yeah” it’s basically the same idea.
3. The wave isn’t just a once or twice thing, it’s an entire game-long experience. I bet you missed those incredibly boring childhood baseball games that would sometimes maybe do a really half-hearted wave in the middle of the game. Well, now’s your chance to live out the childhood experience once again, except throughout the entire game and with 100% more energy! Losing? Winning? Some player’s face just got smashed in? All occasions are acceptable for the good ol’ wave. Just throw your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care – again – and again – and again – and again – and again….
4. Don’t mistake the “si se puede” chant for a bunch of people reminiscing about how great that old latino Disney Channel movie was. I know, “Si Se Puede” was everyone’s favorite teen/poms/dance/latino/low-budget childhood film, but unfortunately as much as we want to believe that’s what the chants about, an entire stadium full of Hondurans might actually be trying to cheer on their team in their own language rather than reminisce about your favorite childhood film. Depressing, I know.
5. Avoid the bottles of urine being thrown at your head. With all the excitement of the wave and the Disney channel chants, who’s got the time to go to the bathroom? Clearly, no one. That’s why it’s not only completely acceptable to urinate in public, but also completely acceptable to aim that sucker and throw it onto the unsuspecting victim of your dreams! Although, beware, this is only acceptable if you announce to the entire stadium that you’re about to throw your pee with by shouting “van los meados”. Remember, if you here that phrase, DUCK! That is, unless you want a warm, yellow surprise!
6. Vuvuzelas: not just some random African instrument used in that one Shakira song. Turns out this incredibly annoying instrument is used here too. Everyone’s got one, and somehow, no one ever runs out of breath! Make sure to make that purchase and blow that thing the entire time. Make that person in front of you have vuvuzela nightmares. Make he/she be haunted by that toy horn for the rest of his/her life. Blow the horn, blow their ear drums! It’s the only true way to show your spirit.
7. If a player on your team gets injured, make sure to cheer them on to recovery. However, if a player on the other team gets injured, make sure to hurl as many painful insults as possible. If your team’s player gets hurt, clearly it’s reasonable for them to lay down for a while. I mean, what did [insert other team’s player] think they were doing anyway, running into and injuring [insert your team’s player]. But, just remember that if [insert other team’s player] gets hurt, it was clearly not [insert your team’s player]’s fault. In the situation that the other team’s player gets hurt, remember to proceed by lowering their confidence as much as possible. For example, “levanta, niña!” works just fine.
8. When your team makes a goal, it’s time to go crazier than a south-side teenager at Free Music Monday. Sorry to all my non-Chicago friends that don’t understand this, but it’s the best comparison I’ve got. To better explain this, I’ll give you three suggestions on Honduran ways to go cray-cray:
Make it rain. No not with money, where do you think you are? The US? No no no, people actually understand the value of money here. You make it rain in the Honduran way – AKA, take any liquid you’ve got, and pour it over EVERYONE. Don’t leave one person dry. Got water? That’ll work. Beer? Even better! A liter of coke? Yep, completely sufficient as well. Heck, you can even make it rain with that pee bottle if you haven’t chucked it yet! The important part is that you make the people surrounding you as wet and uncomfortably sticky as possible.
- You’re too sexy for your shirt. Soccer ball goes in, shirt comes off. Simple as that. Feel free to swing that baby around in the air and slap a few of your sticky neighbors in the face with it while you’re at it.
- Share the love. Look, everyone’s super freakin’ pumped about this goal. You’re not the only one. Time to start hugging everybody! Hug that super sweaty old man, your neighbor’s baby, even the fellow confused gringos staring in awe around you! No one’s safe from that sweaty embrace of yours.
In my own personal opinion, if you want to truly fit in, you should probably do every single one of those actions, and then some.
9. If you thought that was crazy, just wait until the game ends and your team wins. All of the above actions still apply here, except this time, you get to add a few more! Start by throwing literally anything and everything around you. Cardboard, clothing, hats, food, advertising pamphlets, containers, pee, bottles, your best friend, literally anything applies. And once you get something thrown at you, make sure to throw at it at another person. It’s very important that every game-goer gets pelted in the head with some kind of random object. Next, make sure to fire off your home-bought fireworks. Yeah, that’s right, it’s totally and completely alright for you to bring in fireworks! Blow them off in your neighbors face, in your own face, or towards the armed police men. It’s obviously not only safe, but also another fun and chaotic way to express your joy of winning.
10. When exiting the stadium’s parking lot (which, by the way, is really just the entire road next to the stadium), try to remember there is no value to human life. Instead of waiting around for hours for those annoying pedestrians exiting the game, just run them over! Who really cares if you ran over someone’s only son, they can always make another one, right? As long as you get out in time to watch the next qualifying game on TV and party on the streets. Oh, speaking of which…
11. After the game’s been won, it’s time to take the PARRRTAYYY to the streets. No seriously, like randomly in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the country. We’ve got floats with half-naked dancing girls on it, guys talking into speakers, reggatone music blasting, and random people drinking, dancing, talking, and having a good time! You can’t go home yet, you gotta party with your entire country first! Everyone calls each other “primo” here anyway, it’s basically like one big happy family. Y’know, minus the whole extremely dangerous gang thing.
So now that all of my fellow gringos know how to behave, I hope to see you all at the next Honduran soccer game. I’ll even make sure to throw my bottle of pee at you! You’re welcome.