Visiting fans from Velez had already been suspended because of a recent history of violence between supporters of the two teams, including the shooting death in 2008 of Velez supporter Emanuel Álvarez en route to a San Lorenzo match and the death of San Lorenzo supporter Ramón Aramayo as the result of claimed police violence before last year's match.
The Asociación de Fútbol Argentino (AFA) suspended local supporters earlier last week because of confrontations between the police and dozens of persons from the platea following San Lorenzo's last home match. Those confrontations were sparked by the controversial goal decision of the referee. I would have to add, from what I've heard (I'd left the stadium before incidents had taken place), the lack of proper preparation of the police in an obviously explosive situation that led to a strong overreaction, in which several members of the San Lorenzo community who had not attempted to enter the change room were pepper sprayed and hit with police weapons.
Watching the match on television, there were periodic shots that panned the stadium, empty. Normal angled shots revealed the advertising that is normally covered by banners that proudly claim "I am here" from the various barrios and cities in-and-around Buenos Aires and from further away. In the background, each kick of the ball echoed around the stadium and the shouts from the managers could be clearly heard. As a supporter of the Canadian national teams, I've seen more than a fair share of streamed matches in front of empty stadiums (thankfully a quickly disappearing occurrence if played in Canada). But still, it was eeiry. I'd never seen many parts of the stadium empty and it didn't 'look right'.
Certainly not the best way to celebrate a birthday. San Lorenzo had a little bit of luck on the day as Rafaela, Tigre, Olimpo, and All Boys all lost their matches, meaning they didn't fall into a deeper hole on the table of average points-per-match. But a better present would have been to benefit, with a home win, and leave the descenso.
El Ciclón will have to try again next Sunday, visiting Racing Club de Avellaneda - a Easterday 'clasico' (has a North American sports-day feeling!), and under a new manager. Madelón renounced his position immediately following the loss; his charismatic passion for the blue-red not being enough. I think it is better to say I'm watching a soap opera unfold.
The birthday party that was kept to the streets and out of the stadium: