For one to successfully look at the history of Argentine Jews, one must look at the history of Club Atlético Atlanta, the football club in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Villa Crespo. Jewish immigrants to Argentina faced many hardships, especially in determining what their national and cultural identity really meant to themselves, but, through watching Atlanta soccer, they were able to simultaneously shape their national identity while the new nation that they came to shaped them, similar to the cliche phrase of U.S. immigration being akin to a melting pot. Unlike the Bethlehem Steel team, the Atlanta club is still the original club that it was in its founding in 1904, although other teams had merged with them as well. Even though the team was founded in 1904, most Jews didn’t emigrate to Villa Crespo until the 1920s. The team became known as “Jewish” in the ‘50s, originally as an insult by rival teams but as a symbol of pride for the fans. The team enjoyed a moderate amount of success throughout the years, but ultimately never again reached the heights of itself in the late ‘50s and ‘60s when they reached the finals of the Copa Argentina.
The stadium for the Atlanta club became a strong cultural beacon and epicenter for the Jewish community of Buenos Aires. The team gained its “Jewishness” from having at least one Jew on the team’s board and for at least 35 years cumulatively during the 1959-2014 era had a Jewish president, the most famous of which being Leon Kolbowski, for which the current stadium that the team plays in is named after. Jews never made up the majority of the players on the team, although Jewish people did play for the team.
Like many other football fans, fans of Atlanta have had racist expressions thrown at them. However, they have also thrown racist expressions as well through stadium shouts, a tradition in the institution of football where fans shout offensive chants at each other as a way to get more into the game. These shouts have made tracking anti-semitism against the fans of Atlanta slightly more difficult than it would be without, but, nonetheless, antisemitic things are shouted at Atlanta fans during games.
Atlanta football is a way for Argentine Jews to assimilate into their Argentinian society whilst holding on to their eastern or central-European traditions. It unites the many different denominations of Judaism and allows them all to celebrate their cultures together in a safe and fun way. Football truly is a sport that transcends cultural boundaries and allows people to come together and be a part of something greater than themselves.