Rival Colombian football fans, more used to hurling insults at each other on the terraces, have united against a common enemy: Harry Styles. At stake is what takes place at Bogotá’s football stadium on 27 November: either the Colombian football championship final, or the latest leg of the British pop star’s world tour.
Styles had been scheduled to play in the car park of an amusement park in the capital city, but fans started a social media campaign for the concert to be moved after pop star Dua Lipa’s show there last weekend was plagued by logistical and technical problems.
Videos of Dua Lipa’s car park concert went viral as fans complained of crushing, poor sound and ironically, a lack of parking. The show was mocked online because people outside could see and hear better than those with tickets.
Police forced people to come down from trees outside the venue while organisers tried in vain to obscure the view with bin bags.
“We were really upset to see the videos of the Dua Lipa concert, knowing it is the same place and organisers as for Harry. It was a miracle there wasn’t a tragedy,” says Leidy Escobar, who will take her daughter on the 24-hour drive to the capital from Pasto, a town near the Colombian-Ecuadorian border, to see Styles. “We need to change this because it’s not right for Harry’s fans, but above all, for him – all his talent and the great artist that he is.”
The sticking point is that the first leg of the Colombian football championship final is scheduled for the same day and the El Campín stadium is home to Bogotá’s two biggest football clubs, Millonarios and Independiente Santa Fé. Millonarios have already qualified for the knockout round and their bitter rivals are still in contention.
Now supporters of the two teams – used to clashing with one another through chants on the terraces – have joined forces to battle teenage fans and concerned mothers on Twitter threads and TikTok videos.
While football fans argue that El Campín should be reserved strictly for sport, Styles’s fans say the stadium should be for everyone. Online polls suggest that the “Stylers” vastly outnumber the football fans, and ardent Santa Fé supporter Luis Fernando Dueñas Bayona fears that the money earned from the concert could persuade local authorities to force clubs to play the final at the rundown 8,000-capacity Techo stadium on the edge of the capital or in Tunja, which is about 75 miles away in another province.
“Fuck Harry Styles,” Dueñas Bayona says. “It’s not fair to the clubs and the fans. The money will go to the promoter and the district of Bogotá but who cares about the football teams? No one. Just the fans.”
Bogotá’s mayor, Claudia López, has taken up the cause of the Stylers and asked the Colombian football league to reschedule the matches. But with Bogotá’s few large venues booked up, there is little room for manoeuvre.
López’s office would not comment on why she has joined the #HarryAlCampin campaign and whether she is a fan of Styles.
The events organiser is reviewing alternative venues, the District Institute of Recreation and Sport told the Observer.
International acts touring the Americas often skipped Colombia at the end of the last century, when the Andean nation was infamous for drug gang violence, but have visited more frequently in recent years. Coldplay and the Strokes recently played the capital, and Arctic Monkeys, Guns N’ Roses and the Killers are booked for coming months.
Music fans in the country have frequently criticised the integrity of promoters, whom they accuse of cashing in on the desperation of Colombians to see their music idols.
They claim that Colombian concerts are poorly organised and say that tickets frequently cost more than half the monthly minimum wage.
“When Harry Styles, the biggest artist in the world, plays in New York, he is booked for 15 nights at Madison Square Garden,” said Juan Diego Pérez, a 19-year-old student and Styles fanatic from Bogotá. “When he comes to Colombia, they shove us all in a car park!”