ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: ‘Real’ fans of visiting football clubs in Argentina will be banned from stadia at least until the end of the year.
That decision has been taken by the Argentinian FA jointly with Sports Security Secretary Sergio Berni this week even though it now emerges that AFA president Julio Grondona says he wants visiting fans back – which was not the case before.
Is this a case of all the club presidents being two-faced?
Publicly they say all fans should come to matches, but when at the AFA, behind doors, they say they are better off without them.
The reason is money because, without visiting fans, clubs need to pay for far fewer police – they say 45pc – while admission payments by visiting fans as neutrals goes to the host instead of the visiting club.
All this, of course, would not have been necessary if there were no hooligans which should have been wiped out long ago.
Istead everybody – clubs, police, courts, government – blame everybody else and do not accepting their own responsibility.
Berni, apparently, does not realize that it is not the fans of both clubs which cause violence but the hooligans which are wrongly allowed in with them. For example, he says nothing can be done while clubs support their hooligans and that not only the rowdy hooligans should be detained, but also their supporters (club directors).
But, apart from talking, he has made no move in the respect.
Boca Juniors’ president Daniel Angelici has blamed the government, saying: “They (people close to the government) took a group of hooligans to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.”
To which we can add that these people also formed the “Hinchas Argentinos Unidos” group (United Argentine Fans) composed of hooligans from a number of clubs. At some matches, they also displayed banners bearing government propaganda and it is recognised that hooligans will not do anything without being paid for it.
Yet . . . Angelici’s own club are making it more difficult for any action to be taken by shielding some of their hooligans whom they call, uniquely, their “official gang.”
An investigation that Boca gave them membership cards (to resell to people to enter the stadium) is under way with Judge Manuel De Campos finding all sorts of incriminating evidence.
Hence Boca have applied in vain for the judge to be taken off the case.
The club also seem to be dragging their feet to finish installations for the AFAplus ticket system which has been advertised as keeping the hooligans out. Perhaps Boca do not know what to do with their hooligans under the system.
Several police of the Boca precinct have been suspended for being involved (collecting money) with the hooligans, but there are always more.
Apparently police chief Román Di Santo is not one of them and the gang threatened him with death, apparently for investigating their criminal activity too closely. Could anything like this happen in another country?
First it was said that visiting club fans would be banned from stadia until every club had installed the AFAplus system then nothing further was mentioned about this.
Lowest high price
What may well reduce the number of away team fans in stadiums is the price clubs are charging them. The 400 pesos [£40] charged by Argentinos Juniors at last weekend’s home match with Boca Juniors, is apparently the lowest price charged by any club.
At Racing Club, political fighting between president Gastón Cogorno and vice-president Rodolfo Molina is not helping a club bottom of the championship.
Both want each other’s resignation but neither wants to go. Molina accuses Cogorno of ruling the club with the help of hooligans – it appears he was in a hooligan gang himself once and they support him – which is the case at several clubs.
There have been robberies by hooligans at several clubs — the most recent at San Lorenzo and Racing (where a computer was also stolen), but neither club reported the incident to the police. This may have been of little use anyway but it shows they do not want the police involved.
In the case of San Lorenzo the hooligan was caught red-handed attempting to steal soccer kit. Police detained him but released him the same day so he went back to the club to complete the job. This sounds like a joke, but is not.
Even a club such as Yupanqui, in the Metropolitan bottom division, which never sees more than a 100 spectators at matches, have their hooligan gang.
Twenty of them came to the club the other day to threaten the president, a woman. Perhaps there are more and they make up the majority of supporters. Also, hooligan gangs are continually breaking into training sessions to “talk” (threaten) their players if they are not doing well)
Meanwhile, yet another organisation has been formed to fight the violence of hooligan gangs.
For years, Mónica Nizzardo’s group Salvemos al Fútbol (Let’s save soccer) fought against hooliganism but finally gave up as she was not receiving any assistance form the right people.
Now a group Mujeres associadas al fútbol (Women associated with soccer) has been formed by women from 18 clubs, including Boca Juniors and River Plate. They say they have the support of the clubs they represent … though this seems doubtful in view of all the above.
The question is: how long will this organisation last before they realize that the support they receive is mere empty words?
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