QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — The fans of the Aucas soccer team can be described with three words: suffering, guts and heart.
The small club founded 67 years ago has never won a title of any kind, much less represented Ecuador in international play. But its fans remain passionate, blind to the defeats and failures that are synonymous with Aucas.
The club is also known as "Papa Aucas," which is the unmistakable cry from the crowds of its fans from Quito's poor south side.
In the midst of so much suffering over the decades, Aucas is back playing in Division B of Ecuador's professional league after being demoted to a lower league three years ago.
The team was promoted Sunday, causing delirium among the 12,000 fans at the La Caldera Del Sur stadium. They screamed, prayed and cried while some crawled on their knees to celebrate the miracle to returning to Division B.
"Viva el Aucas!" shouted Ernesto Espinosa, a fan of the club since childhood. He wore a cap and was draped with a flag from head to toe.
Among the club's ardent fans is Ecuadorean Vice President Lenin Moreno, who never misses a chance to praise what he calls the team of his "heart."