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Die-hard Venezuelan soccer fans defy political divide

December 17, 2019 GMT
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In this Nov. 25, 2019 photo, a member of the Caracas FC fan club, whose members call themselves the "Red Demons," plays the trumpet before a soccer game with Deportivo Lara at Estadio Metropolitano in Cabudare, Venezuela. Fans have dedicated 30 years to an undying passion for their Caracas Football Club. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
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In this Nov. 25, 2019 photo, a member of the Caracas FC fan club, whose members call themselves the "Red Demons," plays the trumpet before a soccer game with Deportivo Lara at Estadio Metropolitano in Cabudare, Venezuela. Fans have dedicated 30 years to an undying passion for their Caracas Football Club. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Venezuela is the only South American country where baseball and not soccer is the No. 1 sport. Still, a group of fans calling themselves the “Red Demons” has dedicated 30 years to an undying passion for the Caracas Football Club.

Even amid Venezuela’s grinding economic and political crisis, the passion burns — and has even grown.

The Red Demons don’t care that most of their compatriots prefer baseball or that their team has a bad season.

Nor do they miss games, even when money is tight as their homeland experiences its worst ever economic slump, and one of the most serious in Latin America. The fans pinch and scrape to buy game tickets and to pay for trips that allow them to be close to their idols.

During the political confrontation also gripping Venezuela, it is common for the news to highlight the polarization between supporters of socialist President Nicolás Maduro and those of the opposition, led by Juan Guaidó.

But when the Caracas Football Club plays, its supporters leave their ideological preferences and socioeconomic differences behind, joining together to support and take care of each other inside and outside the stadium. They scream, jump and sing as one. They beat their chests in unison.

And the passion of the Red Demons did not lessen in the decade that their team was performing poorly. That loyalty finally paid off Sunday when the Caracas Football Club became champion of the Venezuela League.

The Red Demons now expect more victories, and they hope to continue growing and striving to offer a positive image whenever they can. They organize sports workshops, cultural events and offer hot food in poor neighborhoods of Caracas.