December 10, 2013
AFA Plus fails first exam
By Eric Weil
The AFA Plus ticket system was inaugurated with a lot of fanfare at Colón in Santa Fe last month... well, not quite. Club members entered with their club membership cards only and with them the club’s hooligan gang. Club officials say they are members and there is nothing they can do about it. Not true! A club can expel members and, anyway, who made them members in the first place? No answer required.
The idea of the AFA Plus system — under which one has to register for a special card with fingerprints and other details, and with which you buy match tickets at cash machines (but not yet) — is to keep undesirables out of stadiums (or so the Argentine FA thinks or hopes). But the match against San Lorenzo was stopped for a few minutes when fans threw objects onto the field. Does the AFA plus system identify the culprits? It does not! What about cameras? Usually, they are useless here.
Once the AFA Plus system — announced in 2007 and postponed from season to season every year — works properly (if ever), it would do away with hooligans inside stadiums, the trouble and suspicion always arising with tickets sales for big matches and other evils such as resale at higher prices. But how would Boca Juniors and River Plate manage with their priority lists, for example. No news yet, except that both clubs are holding their horses about implementing the system.
River Plate vice-president Diego Turnes rightly thinks that their method of giving out vouchers with which to buy or fetch tickets is bad as it leaves a lot of tickets on the street which could easily go to resale at higher prices. The AFA Plus system is the solution for all that if properly implemented. For a start, registration would have to be done not by the AFA or clubs, but by an independent body. The hooligan gangs would not like that and they seem to have a powerful voice in local soccer these days.
AFA said that Buenos Aires city was holding things up. But are they holding it up in the provinces too? One supposes any excuse will do.
GOVERNMENT INTERVENES. Last week the government stepped out of bounds again by intervening in soccer matters. The sports security committee sanctioned River Plate for its suspicious tickets sales in the classic against Boca Juniors and fans entering without tickets over the permitted capacity, and the latter club because its hooligans entered the stadium with fireworks and threw smoke bombs onto the field.
The usual sanction was a match with no fans, but the government, perhaps not wanting to hurt people more in view of the near elections, said no. So both stadiums had one small sector closed as a token sanction which made no difference. This probably would not have happened if the clubs had not been popular River and Boca.