December 20, 2013
Soccer should stop until government acts
Security authorities make more mistakes
The Argentine FA (AFA) , if it has the guts to save soccer in Argentina, should stop play until the government takes some positive action to stop the hooligans. The government will obviously not want the country’s most popular sport to be stopped in view of this month’s elections, but perhaps this would be the right time to do it. The government would have to get moving right away to do something, create new, tougher laws which can be done immediately under an emergency situation and quickly do something in view of the short time — 12 days — available.
Meanwhile, the soccer security authorities (police and committee) were wrong in suspending last week’s Independiente v Unión encounter because they found hooligans with firearms outside the stadium. The police detained 32 — there should have been more — and could have dispersed the rest with three hours to go for the scheduled start. The security committee was wrong to schedule the match so late in the evening and it was also wrong to let the 32 walk free next day. Two of them are now suspected of killing a woman and injuring another with firearms three days later.
Independiente’s president Javier Cantero had a meeting with security authorities and wanted to know why the 32 were freed. A posecutor explained they had to let them go because they could not determine who the weapons belonged to and who used them. Sounds like a tall story which again makes a joke of the Argentine judicial system and its laws.
Also, the security committee, not wanting to be left behind in the business of making errors, almost made another one by suggesting that Independiente should play the rest of the championship with no spectators. One hopes that this would have included club directors who are partly responsible for this mess by supporting hooligans — or at least what they call their “official” gang which only results in battles between the “officials” and the rest of the hooligans.
Who loses out? Mostly the innocent fans and also the club which, however, is partly responsible, and Unión who has to pay for further trips from Santa Fe and back. But why are security authorities not made to pay for their mistakes? If debt-riddled Independiente had to play the rest of the championship without spectators, they would have failed to receive a lot of money for admission and would also have had to pay back their season ticket holders.
Independiente continues to receive a lot of claims. The other day another firm claimed they had worked on the new stadium but former president Julio Comparada never seemed to pay for anything. It seems he does the same in his private life as a court just ordered the auction of a house he owns and which he put up as guarantee for a 300,000-dollars loan (plus 90,000 dollars interest).
Listen to the leaders of the two gangs who both say they were not there when the arrests took place. César Rodríguez “Loquillo” says his “official” group has about 180 men and that rival leader “Bebote” álvarez arranged all this with the police — the 32 detained were all from Rodríguez’s gang — and that his gang is the one supporting Cantero and also politicians for money. álvarez says he has about 800 followers and blames it all on Rodríguez.
What the police avoided was a massacre between the two gangs which, if there are really no other options, might be a solution...
The investigation of the ticket scandal at last Sunday’s River Plate v Boca Juniors classic actively continues. But then there was the same scandal at Boca Juniors earlier about tickets which should have been for club members going to hooligans and for resale at higher prices. This happened last season and while Boca Juniors asked for the judge to be removed from the case, the seemingly fairly obvious proofs have not brought the case to an end yet.
At last Sunday’s River-Boca match, police — there were 1,000 officers on duty — detained several people for reselling tickets, one of them appearing to be a club employee with 39 tickets on him and another with 100 tickets.
The firm in charge of supplying tickets in exchange for vouchers says it received 6,900 tickets less than stipulated. The club said it sent 31,000 tickets, so what about the other 30,000 in the 61,000-capacity stadium which was completely packed?
The investigation found several places where these tickets were sold and raided them, finding that all were connected with the club’s hooligan gang. On the other hand, the club says that these tickets were used for an internal exchange ... which would need a lot of explanation. They say that 5,000 tickets go to invitations, which does not include their hooligan gang which, of course, is also “invited”.
The police, meanwhile, detained six spivs selling tickets who gave names of where they got the tickets from, but the persons named were gang members and not the connection from inside the club. But the police also took their mobile phones which may help to trace the real connections.
Will we finally see some results to put people on trial and go to jail, whether hooligans, club employees or officials? And can the much vaunted AFAplus ticket system put a stop to all this?