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For the love of the game

A look at some of the craziest things fans have done out of love for their favourite teams

What is love without passion, and who has more passion than sports fans? From the streets of Rio de Janeiro to the rinks of Saskatchewan, sports fans carry a craze inside of them that comes out when it is time to support their team. 

Here are a few instances in which fans from across the world of sports showed their undying passion.

Racing Club, Independiente and Dead Cats

With fields just 300 metres apart (which, for reference, is about the height of the Empire State Building), fans of the Argentinian football teams Racing Club de Avellaneda and Club Atlético Independiente are longtime bitter rivals. 

In the mid-1960s, this rivalry was at its peak. In 1967, a year after winning the Argentinian league, Racing Club went on to win the Copa Libertadores (South America’s Champions League) and the Intercontinental Cup, being dubbed world champions. 

In a fit of rage, Independiente fans are said to have snuck into Racing Club’s stadium and buried seven dead cats beneath a goalpost, beginning the Racing Club’s “curse of the seven dead cats.” For more than 35 years after this, Racing Club failed to win a single trophy.

They went on to be relegated to the second division in 1983. The paranoia around the club was so bad that in 1998 they performed an exorcism on the pitch. In 2001, the losing curse was finally broken

Bills Mafia and The Pit

Going from cursing a field to praying to a pit, Buffalo Bills fans, or Bills Mafia as they refer to themselves, are some of the most passionate fans in North America. 

This season, the Bills’ ownership group broke ground on a new stadium, to be built next to the existing Highmark Stadium. However great this is for the team, the beginning of construction at the site and the digging of a 40-foot-deep ‘pit’ sparked a dangerous ritual for the fans. 

What first started as a story on TikTok about a fan falling into the pit before each of five wins back in November has turned into an urban legend in the city of Buffalo. The story goes that for the Bills to win a game, a fan must jump into the ‘pit.’

While there has only been one official pit jump, which preceded a 38-0 win for the Bills over the Raiders, it did not stop Erie County Sheriff John Garcia from asking fans to keep away from the pit. 

Despite the 10 arrests for trespassing at the pit this season, Bills fans faced another disappointing year. Maybe next year the pit will deliver for its fans.

The Richard Riot

Moving north, we find the NHL’s most passionate fan base (in my opinion): Habs fans. In terms of passion, whether that be loving or hateful, no one can deny that Montreal bleeds for the game. One event which demonstrated this immense passion was the Richard Riot. 

After star player Maurice Richard was handed a controversial season-long suspension by Clarence Campbell, the NHL president at the time, for hitting a referee, fans hit the streets to protest, albeit peacefully. 

However, when Campbell was spotted attending the next Canadiens game, a riot started inside the Montreal Forum and poured into the streets. The riot left property damaged and several civilians and police officers injured. It took Maurice Richard going onto a Montreal radio station, publicly stating that he accepted his punishment and asking fans to stop rioting in exchange for him promising to win the cup the next year for them to calm down. 

That deal was one he held his word on. 

The Yellow Wall

No conversation about passionate fans can be complete without mentioning the ultras, fanatical groups of football fans, of European football. These fans are the creators of energy, especially in Germany. 

An interesting thing about the Bundesliga (top tier of German Football) is that fans are the majority owners of all teams. All teams must be 51 per cent owned by fans, which means most that attend the game have more than just passion, they are truly invested. 

This investment has resulted in Deutschland playing host to some mega ultra groups, such as Borussia Dortmund’s “Yellow Wall.” With over 25,000 spots on the standing terrace, opposing teams are met with what looks like a sheer cliff of yellow swallowing the back of the pitch. Former Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger was quoted saying rather than fearing Dortmund’s players or coaches, it was the Yellow Wall he feared the most. 

Many say sports are just games, and, to those people, I laugh. Sport is a language, sport is an art and, for many in the world, sport is a way of life. Whether it be love or hate, passion is bred on the field, at the rink, on the court and in the lanes. 

These fans I’ve mentioned go above and beyond, but no matter if you’re sitting on your couch at home or screaming next to thousands, the passion of sport can fill your blood.

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