ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: Brazilian security services are growing increasingly concerned about the Argentinian hooligans planning to attend the World Cup.
This is despite the fact that Argentina comes way down the list of nations whose fans were among the fortunate 4.5m from 220 countries who submitted requests for the 3.3m World Cup tickets.
Argentinians received only six per cent of requests during the first sales period and about the same amount in the recent second period.
Most requests were for the Opening Match in Sao Paulo and the Final in Rio even though it was reported that prices for the latter range from $440 to $900.
Brazilians were allotted the most tickets, followed by fans from the United States, Britain, Germany, Australia, Canada, France, Colombia, Switzerland and Japan – all of whom received more than Argentina.
Speculation duly arose in Buenos Aires that the low number of tickets allocated was because Brazil did not want Argentina’s hooligans to come.
The hosts are already worried about a group of 650 which announced it will travel to Porto Alegre for Argentina’s final group game against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
This is the Hinchas Unidos Argentinos (United Argentine Fans) which travelled to South Africa for the last World Cup, financed by the government.
Reports say that the government is no longer the only provider of a group of about 60 which went then and that comprises mostly fans of lower division clubs are also ‘helped’ by opposition politicians in their districts.
Other reports claimed that the hooligans would be invited by Internacional Porto Alegre who would also provide accommodation but none have yet apparently received any confirmation of match tickets. The Argentinian FA has denied handing out any complementary tickets – though this is hard to believe.
Other hooligan gangs of top division clubs are making their own arrangements to travel so that at a rough estimate there could be a 1,000 Argentinian hooligans in Brazil.
One question is: How will they obtain tickets?
The other question is: Will Brazil let them in?
Debora Hambo, the lawyer of the “United Argentine Fans”, says it would be unconstitutional to keep them out but whose constitution was she talking about?
During the 2010 World Cup, hosts South Africa sent back almost 20 Argentinian hooligans and she launched a lawsuit claiming the costs. After four years, the case remains unresolved and she is promising to send the case to some international tribunal.
A delegation from Argentina’s security ministry met its Brazilian counterpart to discuss the problem.
Brazil, of course, has its own hooligan problem and also fears fighting between fans from different countries. The idea of the Brazilian authorities is either to keep the Argentinian Barras Bravas in Porto Alegre (though many will be planning to travel to other venues) or keep them out altogether.
Argentina has said it will send Brazil a list of more than 1,000 names of hooligans who have law cases against them and are asking clubs to send them names.
This latter move has been tried several times domestically, even by President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner but few clubs responded.
Why should the World Cup be any different?