Industrialization was appearing in Buenos Aires when a group of workers from the La Boca district, mostly Italians, no stranger in a district dominated by Genoese, stood up to the insatiable thirst for production. “More wages and fewer hours,” they claimed.
On the banks of the river Riachuelo that could not erase the nostalgia of the Tyrrhenian Sea, in 1882 the flag of Genoa was hoisted and announced the creation of the Independent Republic of ‘La Mouthe’. The legend says that the separatist illusion lasted what took General Julio Roca to arrive, and years later as the president of the country. The Genoese were left with the desire to raise their flag. But fate had kept another symbol to bear the name for the world, Boca.
In 1905, five Italians founded their club, named after the neighborhood after discarding other names such as Sons of Italy, Defensores de la Boca, and Estrellas de Italia. The colors were missing. The president of the club, a port worker, opted for pragmatism. The club would carry the colors of the flag of the first ship to dock in the port, and it was a Swedish liner that arrived to decorate the team with blue and gold and then the neighborhood. They only lacked a nickname, and the affectionate one was Xeneize.
The amateur era (1891-1930) catapulted Boca in the podium of the most winners, six championships. Then, it began to weave its international fame. Boca was the first team in Argentina to cross the sea. In 1925, it organized a tour that began in Montevideo, passed through Rio de Janeiro and ended in Vigo. Six years later, the team led by Mario Fortunato was established as the first champion of the professional era. The energy of a popular neighborhood club transcended all the social excerpts of Buenos Aires to later become a national symbol, a mysticism that was crowned with the inauguration of La Bombonera in 1940. “It is the true temple of world football,” said Maradona. “It’s not a lie when they say that in the Bombonera the area trembles,” said Batistuta.
La Bombonera generated a show in the environment, not always in tune with what was happening in the field. Boca football hardly generated astonishment, until, paradoxically, in 1969, a benchmark of football sat on the bench. “The team of Alfredo Di Stefano played the best football I saw in Boca. It was a style that had nothing to do with the traditional football. Too bad it did not last long,” recalls an old ardent Boca fan. At that time, nobody doubted the power of Boca in Argentina, but the conquest of South America was missing. In 1977, the legend of Toto Lorenzo emerged the manager who led to the lifting of two consecutive Libertadores and the Intercontinental cup in 1978.
Although a young Diego Maradona watered the football La Bombonera in 1981 and 82, the neighborhood of La Boca did not return to focus of the world until Carlos Bianchi took command of the team. And what has never been seen, nine titles in six years, including a historical match against Real Madrid in the Intercontinental in 2000. With the ingenuity of Riquelme and Palermo’s scoring sensibility, Boca brought down Luis Figo’s Madrid. The flag of Genoa does not shine in the Boca, it does not matter now. There is blue and yellow, which has little of Sweden, but a lot of football.