ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: No progress is yet being made in the pretence of a fight against football hooliganism in Argentina.

Politicians, clubs and police still turn a blind eye in activities including acting as ‘parking attendants’ at matches and drug dealings.

Security Secretary Sergio Berni continues to struggle with the declared aim of allowing away-team fans back into stadia yet violence between gangs continue with visiting supporters masquerading as permitted ‘neutrals.’

Berni threatened to withdraw police security from stadia if he found that tickets from the Argentinian federation had found their way to hooligans who attended the World Cup in Brazil.

However no evidence has apparently come his way even though the Brazilian authorities turned up tickets printed in the name of the AFA.

The sports newspaper Ole reported that world federation FIFA, ahead of the finals, had sent packets containing thousands of unmarked tickets to the AFA. It has been alleged further that the AFA sold on some 1,200 tickets to persons unknown.

The Hinchas Unidas Argentinas, representing fans mostly from lower division clubs, had said only 150 of its members would go to Brazil, because the AFA gave the rest of the “promised 600 tickets” to gangs of big clubs.

Rafael Di Zeo, former leader of the Boca Juniors Barras Bravas who walked free from a series of court cases because of his political connections, had said he expected to travel to Brazil with about 500 Boca hooligans.

Asked where they would obtain tickets, he said: “We know where to get them.”

Richard Pavón, one Independiente club member prepared to be identified, has said at least 150 tickets were given to them by politicians and club officials.

River Plate have refused outright to ban any of their hooligans from attending matches.

Martín Araujo, one of the leaders of the gang which threatened referee Sergio Pezzota the day River Plate were relegated three years ago, faces an ‘unfinished’ court investigation.

‘Free’ turnstiles

Since then he has also been caught with 100 match tickets and the equivalent of £1,000 and said they had been given to him by the club. Andrés Fleitas, another gang member, collected money from fans on match days and let them in through turnstiles opened by the club.

Last year saw a scandal over River Plate members’ tickets turning up on the black market with club officials, including then president Daniel Passarella, under suspicion.

Just when prosecutor José Maria Campagnoli appeared to be closing in on the culprits he was taken off the case and assigned to another concerned with allegations of money-laundering out of the country in a case linked to the government.

Later, just when Campagnoli had joined up the dots between hooligans, politicians, club officials and the police he was suspended for some minor error of judicial procedure.

Now the only individual being investigated is Passarella for fraud, none of the hooligans targeted by Campagnoli. One of the suspects said: “As long as [President] Cristina [Kirchner] is here, nothing will happen to us.”

Earlier, a similar case occurred at Boca Juniors with tickets reserved for members appearing on the black market via their Barra Bravas – just when, coincidentally, the stadium entry system failed  so the hooligans entered the stadium for free anyway.

A handful of employees were detained but not for long and no hooligans at all. Nothing  further has been heard of the investigation.


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