ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: National Security Secretary Sergio Berni has called Argentinian justice “a joke” – referrig to Boca Juniors lifting their stadium ban on hooligan leaders Rafael Di Zeo and Mauro Martin – who both have extensive police records – just in time for the three Boca-River clasicos.
The government ordered Boca Juniors to keep them out of the club but a court, sympathising with hooligans, ignored the order and ordered Boca Juniors to let them in.
Berni then threatened to order the match played without spectators which would have cost it several million pesos in returning money of tickets already sold and might teach officials that dealing with hooligans was not really worth it.
Berni should have maintained his threat but a court would most likely have lifted his order.
Boca president Daniel Angelici even commented that it was impossible to maintain maintain stadium bans on anybody for ever. He used the famous phrase: ‘If you can’t beat them, join them.’
Angellici also said: “We have details and we know who the hooligans are,” although in the past he often said he did not know them. He said the “business they do outside the stadium is none of our business,” but he did not mention, for example, that the club gives them tickets and membership cards which are sold at high prices, especially to foreigners, at up to $500 dollars a match.
A club member of 15 years wrote this week that he could not obtain a ticket so see Boca v River while many are handed to hooligans.
Another recent issue concerns Judge Manuel De Campos who has been investigating the hooligan gang relationship with Boca Juniors club officials and employees for some time.
This columnist believes the judge has all the details and may be waiting for a change of government to take those responsible to court.
Last month, he was removed from the case by a strange decision of an appeals court which only the previous week decided that the River Plate gang was not an illicit association as investigated by another judge.
De Campo has been replaced by another judge in the Boca case, as the law requires, but this man will practically have to start from scrach so nothing is likely to happen for a while, or never.
Also well-known is the close relationship of some police with hooligans in their ‘business’ affairs, but hardly ever was there any judicial action against them.
In 2010, a high ranking officer was sent to trial for having business deals with hooligans and in 2012, a prosecuter found proof of connection with hooligans and five highly ranked policemen were sent to trial, but nothing ever became of either of these trials.
Sometimes police detain hooligans and have to let them go next day. Other times they do not even detain anybody, knowing they cannot be held for long and, if sent for trial, will be released by the judges. Few go to jail compared with the number of hooligans.
Of course, the hooligan problem is worldwide. Greece’s top division has been suspended three times this season because of crowd trouble. Does FIFA know that what is going on in Argentina is worse?