ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: Argentina, better late than never, has complied with a request from Brazil to send a list of the 1,500 hooligans banned from its domestic stadia.
This belated acquiescence to concerns of the World Cup hosts’ security services ahead of the finals may have been accomplished too late.
For several weeks the Argentinian media has been pointing up the plans of the barras bravas to head up to Porto Alegre, the southernmost World Cup venue.
Gilberto Bitancourt Viegas, leader of the Inter Porto Alegre ultras, has said he can provide accommodation for 1,200 hooligans and 200 tickets for them for every one of Argentina’s matches. It has been suggested he obtained them through ‘friendly’ politicians.
In April he flew to Buenos Aires to arrange the details with ‘Bebote’ Alvarez, leader of the Independiente faction with whom his ‘gang’ is also friendly. Later he said he believed he could obtain 1,200 tickets with at least 600 guaranteed.
The government appears to have been pushed into belated action by the unilateral decision of Buenos Aires province Governor Daniel Scioli to sent a list of hooligans in his province. After that the government had no option but to follow suit, so as not to appear out of a step with a province.
Concerns have been raised by the British media over the prospects of hooligan clashes. Argentina play their Group F matches in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre while England play in Manaus, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte.
Simultaneously, an organisation called Football in Peace in Argentina wants AFA president Julio Grondona investigated over allegations that he handed the hooligans 900 tickets.
Such questions recalled the World Cup tickets scandals surrounding the infamous former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.