Authors Name: 
Miles Coleman
University of Bristol
Languages & Linguistics
Highly commended

¿Se puede decir que la rivalidad entre River Plate y Boca Juniors tiene más que ver con una división racial y social en Argentina que con el fútbol?

This essay seeks to use the famous footballing rivalry between River Plate and Boca Juniors as a vector through which I could examine questions of class, race and social inclusion in Argentinian contemporary society. What was discovered, and what many people in Buenos Aires would agree with, is that 'El Superclásico', as the match is known, is more than merely a sporting duel; it encompasses centuries of social commentary, class warfare and race relations in its tumultuous 90 minutes. A basic starting point for the essay was the fact that, broadly speaking, River Plate are perceived to be the club of the elite and Boca Juniors are seen as the working man's team. This proved to be a fascinating genesis for further study; could one explain the intense, ferocious rivalry between these clubs not just in sporting terms, but with sociology, politics and economics? What were the historical and cultural reasons that made this game so uniquely different from the thousands of sporting rivalries around the world? Crucially, the essay seeks to investigate if the rivalry was in fact reflective of divisions in wider Argentine society, if one could extend what happens on the football pitches of Buenos Aires to serve as a microcosm for the nation as a whole. The essay includes interviews with government officials, historians, journalists and fans of both teams, as well as first hand reflections made whilst attending a Superclásico - a method that is not for the faint of heart as they are infamously dangerous affairs. The essay found that River-Boca is much more than just another game of football, it is the particularly Argentinian response to racial and socio-economic national divisions and is an invaluable lens through which to examine and understand contemporary Bonaerense society.