December 12, 2013
Visiting fans made to pay for hooligans
Everybody blames each other, but all are guilty
So real fans of visiting clubs will be banned from stadiums at least until the end of the year. That decision was taken by the Argentine FA (AFA) jointly with Sports Security Secretary Sergio Berni this week, but it now turns out that AFA chief Julio Grondona wants visiting fans back, which was not the case before... or is he two-faced like the rest of the club presidents? Publicly they say all fans should go to matches, but when at the AFA, behind closed doors, they say they are better off without them.
The reason is money, because without visiting team fans they need to pay less police to watch them — they say 45 percent less — while what is paid for admission by visiting fans, who go in anyway as neutrals, goes to the club instead of the visiting club. This may be so, but it is not quite true and club directors are also egoists as directors of both clubs can enter stadiums, without buying tickets, of course... as well as, probably, some of hooligan gangs.
All this, of course, would not have been necessary if there were no hooligans which should have been wiped out long ago. But everybody — the clubs, the police, the courts, the government — are blaming everybody else and not accepting their share of responsibility. Berni, meanwhile, 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. Berni, for example, 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, for example, blames the government. He said “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 showed banners with government propaganda and it is well known that hooligans will not do anything without getting paid for it.
Yet Angelici’s club is making it more difficult for any action to be taken by shielding part of their hooligans — what they call rather uniquely their “official gang.” The investigation into clubs giving them membership cards (to resell to people to enter the stadium), which started early this year, is still continuing with judge Manuel De Campos finding all sorts of incriminating evidence. Now Boca Juniors wants the judge to be taken off the case, but this was refused. The club also seem to be dragging their feet in finishing the required installations for the AFA-plus ticket system which has been advertised as a solution to keeping the hooligans out. but is hardly likely to do so. Perhaps Boca Juniors do not know what to do with their hooligans under the system.
Several police from the Boca precinct have been suspended for being involved (for 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 stadiums until every club had the AFA-plus system installed, but then nothing further was mentioned about this. What may well reduce the number of away team fans in stadiums is the price clubs are charging them for tickets. The 400 pesos 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 infighting between President Gastón Cogorno and Vice-President Rodolfo Molina is not helping the club which sits 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 upon a time and they support him — and this is the case at several clubs.
There have been robberies carried out by hooligans at several clubs — the most recent at San Lorenzo and Racing (where a computer was also stolen), but neither club denounced the case to the police. This may have been of little use, but it nevertheless shows they do not want the police to get involved. In the case of San Lorenzo, the hooligan was caught red-handed attempting to steal soccer kit, and the police did detain him, but let him go the same day, so he went back to the club to complete the attempted job. This sounds like a joke, but it’s not.
Even a club like Yupanqui, in the Metropolitan bottom division, which never gets more than a 100 spectators at matches, have their own 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 organization 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, before finally giving up as she was not getting any assistance from the right people. Now appears another group, Mujeres associadas al fútbol, (Women associated with soccer) has beenformed, for the moment by women from 18 clubs, including Boca Juniors and River Plate. They say they have the support of the clubs they represent... yet this seems rather doubtful in view of what has been mentioned in this column.
The question is, how long will this organisation last before they realize that the support they get will just be by word of mouth?