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Bolivian team plays in fake AS Roma kits bought outside the stadium

Ciclón are travelling away to Potosí for a top division playoff match against Real Potosí. The old Bolivian mining town is one of the world's highest cities at over 4,000 meters above sea level: an unusual setting for a football game, matched by equally unusual proceedings. As the teams are out for the pre-match warm up in fact, the ref realises that the two kits are too similar, and decrees that the game will not go ahead unless one of the teams changes colours. One small issue: the visiting team didn't bring their away strips.

After a few moments of panic, the chairman of Atlético Ciclón comes up with a brilliant plan to save the day. He runs out on the streets of the Estadio Victor Augustín Ugarte, and there, among parked cars and hot dog stands, finds a merchandise stall. He buys 12 counterfeit AS Roma shirts (because that's what's on offer at merchandise stalls in Bolivia) and heads back to the ground.

The ref is happy and the match can go ahead, just as soon as all the Atlético Ciclón players have drawn their number on the back of their shirt using permanent marker. If all this wasn't surreal enough, Real Potosi’s badge is essentially the Real Madrid badge with a mountain drawn over it: it’s as if the Bolivians decided to play a prediction game of the Champions League round of 16 game scheduled for the 17th of February.

Is this story unusual? Unusual enough for us to write about it. But in a part of the world where most buildings are left incomplete, exploiting a loophole whereby you only pay property tax on the finished product, the well balanced level of disorganisation and resourcefulness displayed by Club Atlético Ciclón, as well the leniency of the ref… are they that difficult to conceive? Not really. Do we mind it? Not in the slightest; on the contrary, we love it. Why? Because it reminds us of a time when it wasn’t all so serious, a time before football had become a money making machine; a time when football was really just a game. A beautiful game.

P.S.: For the record, the match ended 4-0 in favour of Real Potosí. But hell, who was keeping score anyway…

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