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Deportivo FAS
3. nov. 2013 11:27

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

Barra Brava ...

en oversigt fra Wiki...
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

Deportivo FAS
3. nov. 2013 11:33

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

The barra bravas: the violent Argentinian gangs controlling football

From the slums of Buenos Aires, there´s only one escape – football. To play like Maradona or Tevez is the ultimate dream, but off the pitch there´s another option: joining one of the violent gangs who control the sport. An extraordinary report of life among the world´s most dangerous fans

Like many of those living in Villa Fiorito, one of Argentina´s most dangerous slums, Jose Mendez takes his shots at glory when he can – like the day five years ago when he slung the shirt of a rival football club over his shoulder and paraded through the streets of his neighbourhood like a returning warrior. Cigarette clamped between his teeth and basketball shirt hanging off his skinny frame, Mendez recounts the fight he waged to win his trophy: the crowded streets after a big match; the other fan putting up a struggle; Mendez, pumped up on chemicals and cheap beer, knocking him down into the street, smashing his face and kicking him until he could get the shirt off his back. "I took the shirt," he says. I put it over my shoulder and walked through the barrio with everyone watching." He struts up and down the dirt path outside his family home, replaying his victory march. "After that I was in, they knew how much I loved the club. I was one of them."

As with many poor men across Argentina, football has shaped Mendez´s life and his identity. He says football is the one glorious thing in his life, a chink of colour in the monotony of poverty, crime and unemployment that surrounds him and his young family. But recently his devotion has led Mendez down a different path. Since his glory march through the streets of Fiorito, Mendez has become a barra brava, a self-proclaimed soldier for his club and part of a well-organised and violent network of fans that now wields almost unfettered power over the multi-million-pound business of football in Argentina.

In practically every major club side – which includes some of the world´s most famous teams – the power of the fans is out of control. Using mob violence and intimidation, Argentina´s barras bravas cream hundreds of thousands of pounds from the game every year through illegal rackets, money laundering and narcotics, underpinned by police and state corruption, and supported by the clubs and players themselves.

The only way to understand how Argentina´s fans have grown so powerful is to witness them at first-hand. La Bombonera, Boca Juniors´s famous stadium, squats in the heart of the working-class La Boca neighbourhood in the south of Buenos Aires. When I go to a match, the whole structure shakes underfoot as trumpets blare and thousands of fans jump and dance in a shower of ticker tape.

Next to me, amid the riot of noise and furious anticipation, a man wearing a Boca shirt is silently praying, face raised to the sky. As the players enter the stadium to an animal roar, he bellows his love for his team into the night. "Boca! Boca! Boca!" he screams, tears running down his face as he reaches his arms out to the tiny figures below. "I love you, I love you."

Down by the pitch in the "popular" stands, La Doce (The Twelfth Player) – Boca Junior´s hardcore fan base – are a tight mass of thrashing bodies, twirling their blue and yellow shirts around their heads, dancing, singing and banging drums. As the match starts they surge towards the fence separating the fans from the pitch, bodies slamming against the chain-link, screaming their team on to victory.

Throughout the match La Doce lead the chants; the players on the pitch feed off their adulation and when the crowd grows restless at the sluggish pace, it is to La Doce that they look for support. Yet while La Doce may have the rightful reputation as the world´s most passionate fans in a country that has spawned some of the world´s greatest players and most exciting club football, they have also evolved into one of the most feared and infamous groups of barra brava in the country.

The more lucrative the club becomes, the bigger the piece of the pie the fans claim. It´s estimated the most powerful barras pull in thousands every month through ticket and parking rackets, and by controlling the lion´s share of club merchandise and refreshments inside the stadiums. And it doesn´t stop there. Gustavo Grabia, an Argentinian journalist who has spent years investigating football corruption, claims the biggest barras also receive up to 30% of transfer fees when a player leaves and up to 20% of some players´ paychecks.

For ordinary men such as Mendez, the message of the barras bravas is that everybody can benefit, as long as they don´t mind getting their hands dirty. "For me it was like a dream, to go to the match every week, to be someone," he explains. "At the games we´re welcomed like heroes. You don´t need to go through security, you don´t need to answer any questions." He stops and raises his hands in a victory salute. "In there we´re like the kings of the stadium!"

He agreed to speak to me on condition I change his name. If the bosses find out he´s speaking to a journalist, there´ll be hell to pay, he says, cocking his fingers into the shape of a gun and blowing an imaginary bullet into his head. "These people, the bosses who run the barras bravas, they don´t care who you are, if you cross them, they will hunt you down and come after you and your family."

Football in Argentina has always been bloody, but in the past decade things have escalated. An estimated 190 people have now died in football-related incidents in Argentina, 14 in the past 18 months. In 2002, after a particularly bloody season saw five people killed and countless others left with gunshot and knife wounds, the Argentinian government declared violence in football a national emergency.

In recent years, the violence has shifted away from the terraces into the streets of the capital as rival barras fight for control in a blaze of fire fights, drive-by shootings and mafia-style executions. Despite the violence, Mendez still believes he is taking part in something glorious. "What else do we have to be proud of if it isn´t our team or the club shirt on our backs?" he asks. He gestures angrily around his house, at the crumbling walls, the damp mattresses where his six children sleep, the curling football posters and flickering light bulbs. He takes me outside and points to two teenagers sitting under a faded mural of Villa Fiorito´s most famous son – Diego Maradona. For a few pesos, locals take tourists to see the pitch where he honed his skills, now nothing more than a patch of cracked, weed-clogged concrete, or to look at the rubbish-strewn front yard of the Maradona family house.

The two boys lean back against the cracked paint and smoke paco, a cheap, toxic mix of cocaine base paste. The drug has become endemic in Argentina´s poorest barrios, claiming countless young lives every year. "Those two boys, they used to play football with my sons," says Mendez. He points to one of them; what was once a leg is now a stump wrapped in dirty bandages. "That kid, he was so high on that stuff he lay on the railway tracks and was hit by a train. In a year they´ll both be dead."

For Mendez, Maradona is proof of the transformational power of football. Here, he says, nobody but the footballers leave the villa. "Maradona grew up in these streets," says Mendez. "I remember him playing football and everybody knew he was a genius. He was given a gift and he got his whole family out. Carlos Tevez, he was the same. He came from nothing and now he´s a superstar."

Despite his best efforts, Mendez hasn´t made a particularly good barra soldier. He´s hung around on the fringes of the organisation, but never made any real money. Now that he´s promised his wife he´ll quit the booze and drugs, he has neither the constitution for violence nor the head for business.

A few days later he takes me to meet someone who does. We travel across town to an abandoned railway siding to meet Pepe Diaz (not his real name) a father of three. According to Mendez, Diaz can tell me everything there is to know about the inner mechanics of Argentina´s new football mafia. When we arrive Diaz is working. On his belt a mobile phone buzzes relentlessly. "It´s going to be a big one," he says, rubbing his hands. "Big game, big money."

Unlike Mendez, Diaz has shown a remarkable aptitude for business and has moved quickly up the ranks. Throughout our conversation he exudes a sense of ownership over his team, which has grown from the poor streets in the south of Buenos Aires to become one of the best known in the world. For Diaz the barras bravas are doing nothing more than taking what is rightfully theirs. "Here in Argentina we are football, it belongs to us," says Diaz. "The players, the clubs, they owe everything to us. Why should we sit back while the suits get rich? We are just taking our cut."

Like Mendez, Diaz was born and raised in Argentina´s slums. Now he´s raising his young family there, too. During the week he feeds them by working as a cartonero, dragging a cart past the tango halls and steak restaurants of downtown Buenos Aires, picking up discarded cardboard for recycling. "I walk around the city every night and people look straight through me like I don´t exist. As a poor man, I´m invisible. At the weekends it´s different. People see us. People see me."

Diaz is proud of how efficiently his barra is running the business of football. "In England you think your fans, los hooligans, were powerful but they were nothing compared to us. All you did there was drink and fight. We drink, we fight and we also do business. We´re not just monkeys singing for the clubs in the stadiums and then killing each other in the streets. They could learn a thing or two from us."

Squatting on the ground with a bottle of beer in one hand, Diaz draws circles in the dirt to map out the regimented hierarchy of the barra brava. At the top are the bosses – the half-dozen ruthless men who rule through fear. Each is estimated to make up to 100,000 pesos (£70,000) a year in a country where 30% of the population live below the poverty line. Down at the bottom are the ordinary neighbourhood men and football fanatics who are given free beer, amphetamines and dope and then dispatched to the matches to sing for their side and do the bidding of the bosses in the streets. In the middle are men like Diaz who are increasingly making the barras bravas a criminal force to be reckoned with. "I had to show my loyalty to the club, so at first it was just the fighting, showing you´re willing to do what it takes," he says. "Then when they trust you, you can start to get involved with the money. Then you´re really part of it."

Like most barra soldiers, Diaz started by roaming the streets around the stadiums charging fans 40-60 pesos (£8-10) to park their cars near the stadium. He proved a natural at persuading people to part with their cash and estimates he made about 2,000 pesos (£300) in commission per game. "First you start off doing the parking, then you move on to flogging tickets outside the game," he explains, alleging that during the matches he runs guns and drugs, mostly speed and marijuana, through the stands. "Inside the stadium is where a lot of the real action happens, because in there we´re basically untouchable. We can do whatever we want. It´s our territory."

If Diaz is telling the truth, it seems unlikely that any of this could happen without the complicity and collusion of the clubs, the players and the police, a situation that has been the subject of much speculation and report both inside and outside Argentina. In the 1950s the barras started out as groups of dedicated fans who were given shirts and free tickets by club officials who needed to secure votes by season-ticket holders to get elected to club boards. Once they had their foot in the door, the fans´ demands increased and their willingness to resort to disruptive violence saw their grip on the clubs tighten. The problem for those trying to break the power of the fans is that too many people are benefiting from their rise to dominance.

Carlos de los Santos is from Argentina´s new Security Unit for Live Sporting Events, which the government set up to deal with mounting violence in the game. He looks weary when I ask him why there has been so little progress. "Corruption is endemic in Argentina and it is what has allowed the barras to get so powerful," he says. "The problem is that everybody is taking a cut. It won´t help just throwing the barras bosses in jail, we´ve tried that. To break the barras you have to sever their political connections and root out those police complicit in their activities, and this is going to be hard. In fact in the current climate I don´t see how it´s going to be done."

In the absence of any decisive action from the authorities, it´s come down to those who have been most touched by the violence to fight back. Argentina´s frontline in the war against the barras bravas comes in the unlikely form of Liliana Suárez de García, a softly spoken woman in her late 60s. On her lapel is a badge bearing the face of her son, Daniel, killed outside a game in Uruguay during the Copa America in 1995. For years after his death she fought for those responsible to be brought to justice, until she realised there were dozens of other families also losing sons. Now, as president of her own organisation, Familiares de las Victimas de la Violencia en el Futbol Argentino (Families of the Victims of Violence in Argentinian Football), she has emerged as one of the only voices calling for action.

"Every day I wake crying for my child," she says, wiping her eyes. "His death was so tragic, but nobody helped me, there has been no justice because those who killed him have the protection of the police and of the state. It has to stop because at the moment those who are profiteering are getting away with murder."

When I ask Diaz about the tangled web of vested interests underpinning the barra´s control over the game, he looks blank. "They use us, we use them, it´s the way it´s done," he says, with a shrug. "Police get paid, politicians get paid, and everyone wins. When they need muscle they have it, when we want money or access to players then we get it. If the clubs don´t think a player is doing his job properly or not paying out we´ll have a word or his girlfriend or wife might be threatened with kidnap."

"You physically attack the players?" I ask.

"Only if they need a talking to," says Diaz. "Just to let them know who´s boss."

But life as a barra brava comes at a cost; as profits soar, the barras are turning on each other. Last year rival gangs within La Doce turned part of downtown Buenos Aires into a war zone, wounding several terrified bystanders.

Diaz now sleeps with a gun beside his bed. "Of course the dangers get greater as you get more powerful, but that´s the risk," he says. "I think about quitting, but then as soon as I get on the bus at the weekend and the booze and the drugs are flowing and the drums are banging and you´re singing for your club, it´s the best feeling in the world."

Mendez has a different story. Recently life within the barras has become too much and he wants to get out. "It´s one thing when it´s just parking rackets and ticket sales, but now it´s too heavy," he says. Last year he and his family were caught in the middle of a violent battle for control of the drug trade in Villa Fiorito, with the traffickers on one side and the barra brava of another club on the other. "My baby son was outside and they were running up the street firing at each other. I threw myself on top of him and we could hear the bullets as they went over our heads. When you´re with the barra you´re somebody. Without them, I´m just another poor guy who can´t feed his family. But at least I´ll be alive."

• The following correction was published in the Observer on 28 August 2011:
"A game of life and death" (Observer Magazine), describing the regimented hierarchy of Argentina´s football supporters, said that their leaders rule through fear and "make up to 100,000 pesos (£70,000) a year". Rather less, actually. That figure in Argentinian pesos currently converts to £14,500. Apologies.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

Deportivo FAS
3. nov. 2013 11:35

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

Destrozos y tensión política en el cortejo fúnebre de un barra brava

Por el crimen del kirchnerista Morales le apuntan a un funcionario de Jorge Macri, intendente de Vicente López.

Todo el mundo sabía que la barra brava de Colegiales no se iba a quedar de brazos cruzados después de que asesinaran, el domingo, de seis balazos y delante de su hijo de 12 años, a Fernando “Loco Pocho” Morales López. Ya el martes a la noche, en el velorio que se realizó en el propio estadio del club de Munro, hubo claras demostraciones de que habría venganza.

El primer capítulo del ajuste de cuentas se vio ayer, cuando 400 hinchas desaforados del Tricolor, como parte del cortejo fúnebre, recorrieron las principales avenidas de Vicente López en autos, ciclomotores y tres colectivos, dejando en claro que la muerte de su líder no quedaría sin vendetta .

Rompieron comercios, patrulleros y agredieron a peatones y periodistas.

¿De quién se quiere vengar la barra de Colegiales? La caravana pasó por la puerta de la Municipalidad local porque los hinchas apuntan contra César Torres, secretario de Gobierno del intendente Jorge Macri. Ni Torres ni el intendente de Vicente López quisieron hacer declaraciones.

“Recibí trompadas y patadas. Me rompieron la cámara. Esos muchachos estaban totalmente sacados y descontrolados. No hubo motivo, salvo que estaba filmando. Me refugié en un patrullero. De repente se fueron los policías, asustados, creo, del móvil. Me dejaron solo arriba del auto. Los barras me seguían pegando por la ventanilla. Me tuve que escapar por la otra puerta y salir corriendo por Maipú”, contó Tomás del Campo, camarógrafo del noticiero del canal Somos Zona Norte. La postal parecía sacada de algún cartel de Colombia o México, con la mafia enardecida despidiendo a su jefe.

¿Cómo mataron al “Pocho”?

Todo empezó por una pelea entre Morales y su por entonces íntimo amigo y lugarteniente, “El Negro” Martín Cabrera. Al parecer, Cabrera, que respondía al dirigente de Colegiales Omar “Turco” Asad –luego echado por la Comisión Directiva– pidió manejar el buffet del club. El presidente del Tricolor, Rodrigo González, un ultrakirchnerista integrante de La Cámpora que es candidato a concejal en Vicente López, admitió el pedido de “El Negro” Martín e incluso resalta su entrañable amistad con “Pocho”, que tiene un pesado prontuario relacionado con las drogas, robos y aprietes.

“Es un gran pibe, amigo de muchos años y un referente en el barrio. Por eso permitimos que se lo vele en el gimnasio del club”, dijo en diálogo con Clarín. Aunque en la Fiscalía aún no relacionan el asesinato con una cuestión política, la muerte de Morales, según cuentan cerca del club, se debe a una disputa territorial. Señalan que Pocho es puntero del Frente Para la Victoria y el “Negro Martín”, del Frente Renovador. Ambos arreglaron repartirse los barrios de Munro y Carapachay para hacer pegatinas de afiches políticos sin entrar en guerra. “A raíz de la fuerte derrota que el kirchnerismo sufrió en las PASO en Vicente López, los que le pagan al Pocho lo apretaron para que pegue afiches en todos los lugares que pueda e invade el territorio del Negro”, contaron ayer en el entierro del Pocho.

“Ese Uruguayo es un sicario que lo contrataron para matar. Hay testigos que lo vieron el sábado en la cancha para marcar al Pocho. No tengo dudas que la Municipalidad está detrás del asunto ya que utilizaba a esta gente como fuerza de choque y les pagaba”, acusa el presidente González.

En un escueto comunicado, la Municipalidad lo negó y dice que no tiene “ninguna vinculación”. Y agregaron: “La Justicia no está investigando una disputa política sino una pelea entre facciones internas de la barra”.

Ayer, en el medio de las piñas, puteadas, piedrazos y destrozos de la caravana, un barrabrava que saltaba arriba del cajón que llevaba al Pocho, aseguraba conocer donde vive Torres.

Y que el capítulo siguiente era ir a ese barrio, en el bajo de Vicente López, junto al río, para cumplir con la venganza.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

Deportivo FAS
3. nov. 2013 11:42

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

Som vi vist alle har fundet af nu er afvikles kampe i Argentina uden deltages af udeholdets fans på stadion, pga stadionuroligheder og mord i sæson optakten...

In Argentina, Violence Is Part of the Soccer Culture

BUENOS AIRES — Three fans of the soccer club San Lorenzo de Almagro slipped past security guards after a closed-door practice last month and berated players on the field for their recent losses.

Jonathan Bottinelli, a star defender, told the men to leave. One of them lunged at Bottinelli and punched him in the face. Another hit him from behind. A few teammates rushed in to stop the fight, Bottinelli and other players said, but the beating continued, leaving Bottinelli, a club fan since childhood, with doubts about ever again pulling on the red-and-blue San Lorenzo jersey.

More than a decade after England finally tamed the roving bands of hooligans that long ravaged soccer stadiums in Britain, fan-related violence continues to stain the sport in Argentina.

The unrest in part reflects an increasingly violent Argentine society, where street crime has been on the rise. But much of the violence can be traced to hostilities between rival factions of barra bravas, the Argentine version of hooligan fan groups that use fists, firearms and knives, and operate like mini-mafias. They engage in legal and illegal businesses, including selling drugs, often with the cover and complicity of the police, politicians and club officials, according to prosecutors and others who have studied them.

Barra bravas are blamed for many of the 257 soccer-related deaths in Argentina since 1924, almost half of which have occurred in the past 20 years, according to Let’s Save Football, a nongovernmental organization in Buenos Aires that is working to eradicate violence in the sport.

“We don’t feel safe inside of our stadiums in Argentina,” said Monica Nizzardo, president of Let’s Save Football. “That is why families have stopped going.”

The head of the San Lorenzo barra brava, Cristian Evangelista, led the attack on Bottinelli, players testified in court, though they refused to name the other barras involved. Club officials did not respond to requests for comment. After the episode, the Argentine government canceled San Lorenzo’s next match while officials investigated.

Soccer violence became so rampant in the past decade that officials barred visiting fans from attending all but first-division matches for four years. The prohibition was lifted in August.

Visiting fans are not always the problem. After the storied club River Plate lost a match in June, relegating the team to the second division for the first time in its history, its fans pulled apart their own stadium, throwing bleachers and metal poles onto the field as the police fired tear gas into the stands. Fans fought with one another and attacked reporters and the police, who used rubber bullets and water cannons to try to quell the chaos. An estimated 70 people were injured, including 35 police officers, and about 100 people were detained.

The tension was palpable at a second-division match in September between River Plate and Quilmes. Some 600 police officers set up roadblocks around the stadium to separate Quilmes and visiting River fans. After the match, Quilmes fans had to wait a half-hour for River fans to exit before being allowed to leave the stadium.

Asserting control over unruly fans is more complicated than in England, said experts who have studied soccer violence.

In England, many hooligans were working-class men looking for a weekend fight. In Argentina, the barra bravas have ties to politicians, the police and club management, and some of their leaders have gained the admiration of young fans. Politicians tap them as a “shock force” to muscle unions backing rival politicians. Prosecutors have accused barras of killing union workers.

“On Sundays they go to the stadium and wave the flag of the club to support the team,” said Gustavo Gerlero, a public prosecutor. “During the week they are giving support to politicians and union leaders as laborers and bodyguards by the very people that theoretically should be stopping them.”

The Argentine Football Association, the sport’s national governing body, said it was concerned about the barra bravas’ role in the violence. Nizzardo and others have criticized the powerful president of the association, Julio Grondona, for not showing the will to break the barras. Grondona, 80, has led the association since 1979, when Argentina was in the midst of a bloody dictatorship. He is also a senior vice president of FIFA, soccer’s world governing body.

Grondona, who officials said has been ill lately, declined to be interviewed. In an interview last year that appeared in an Argentine book, “Football and Violence,” Grondona said his association wanted to eradicate the barra bravas to “ensure normality in the stadiums.” And he said the clubs needed to institute “biometric” control of fans entering the stadium to “deepen the right of admission.”

A barra brava typically has a few hundred members. They chant songs and wave flags and organize the huge banners supporting their club. Away from the field they earn money from scalping tickets, parking cars, selling illicit drugs and, some prosecutors have said, taking a cut of the sale of players.

Gerlero suggested that a deadly attack in 2007 on a high-ranking barra brava member, Gonzalo Acro, was sparked by a dispute over a cut of the sale of striker Gonzalo Higuaín by River Plate to Real Madrid for 13 million euros (about $17 million). In September a court in Buenos Aires sentenced Alan and William Schlenker, leaders of one of the River Plate barras, and three associates to life in prison for shooting Acro three times after he left his health club. Grondona, in the interview last year, called the notion that the barra bravas were working with the clubs in the selling of players “absurd.”

The barra bravas of the top clubs, like Boca Juniors La 12, earn more than 300,000 pesos a month (about $70,000), with a group’s leader earning $15,000 or more per month, said Gustavo Grabia, a journalist and author of a best-selling book about the Boca barra brava.

Rafael Di Zeo exemplifies the cult-figure status of some barra bravas leaders and the changing fan culture here.

The former leader of the Boca La 12 barra brava, Di Zeo was released from prison in May 2010 after serving more than three years for aggravated assault for his role in a 1999 fight against fans of the Chacarita Juniors that resulted in 14 injuries. He signs autographs at matches for young fans and has appeared on magazine covers.

Until the 1990s, fans idolized the top players at their clubs. But with the growing lure of bigger contracts abroad, many Argentine stars leave to play in Europe.

“There isn’t time for kids to identify with a player as the idol of their club,” Grabia said. “So they identify with the barras instead.”

On Oct. 30, Di Zeo made his long-awaited return. He stood at the opposite end of the field from Mauro Martín, his successor, and both men rallied fans to shout louder for the players. Di Zeo and some 2,000 of his followers hurled insults at a large group of Martín’s followers, chanting about fighting.

“Oh lele, oh lala, we are going to kill all the traitors,” Di Zeo and his supporters chanted. Across the field, Martín was captured on camera making a cut-off-your-head gesture.

After the match Di Zeo told reporters that he sat on the visitor’s side to avert problems. Carla Cavaliere, a judge in Buenos Aires, did not agree. On Nov. 4 she barred both Di Zeo and Martín from going within 500 meters (about 547 yards) of any stadium where a game was taking place or about to take place until at least the end of this season, a move apparently intended to avert a violent clash for control.

Di Zeo has said that the violence is eternal in Argentine soccer.

“Do you think that with me in prison the violence is going to end?” he told Grabia before entering prison in 2007, as recounted in his book. “Do you believe that if you put us all together in a plaza and kill us the violence is going to end? No, it isn’t going to end ever. Do you know why? Because this is a school. It is heritage, heritage, heritage.”

That sort of violent posturing has driven many families away from the stadiums.

Andrés Nieto, a supporter of San Lorenzo, said he stopped attending matches three years ago, and lately has had to resist pressure from his 8-year-old son, who wants badly to go.

“Every day it is harder to go to the stadiums with your kids to see the games,” said Nieto, 41, a graphic designer. “It seems like the quality of soccer is getting worse every day. The young players, most of them, are looking to play in whatever other country because they can earn more and it’s less violent.”

Nieto said the threats and assaults on players had become all too common.

After being beaten up at the hands of the barras, Bottinelli went to the coast to recover. He has decided to stay with San Lorenzo — for now.

“I am a little nervous, a little tense about what we had to go through,” Bottinelli told Fox Sports after the beating. “Now it’s over. What are you going to do? We have to live with this in soccer.”

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

Deportivo FAS
3. nov. 2013 11:46

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?


In Argentina, rival soccer fans don’t just hate, they kill, and the violent partisans of top clubs fuel crime syndicates that influence the sport at its highest levels. Patrick Symmes braves the bottle rockets, howling mobs, urine bombs, and drunken grannies on a wild ride through the scariest fútbol underworld on earth.

“There are two stories,” a leader of the Rat Stabbers told me. We were filing through police lines toward the cylinder, the stadium of a powerful Buenos Aires soccer team called Racing. Inside, about 60,000 enemy fans waited to crucify us.

His name was Jorge Celestre—Georgie Blueskies—but he was explaining the name of his fan club, the Rat Stabbers. They were the diehard supporters of Estudiantes, a pro soccer team southeast of Buenos Aires.

The first story was about some medical students—owing to their lab work, “rat stabbers”—who founded Estudiantes more than a century ago. It was a nice story about a studious, successful Argentina, a country that started the 20th century with futuristic dreams and progressive ambitions.

“But the second story is more probable,” Celestre explained as we jostled our way toward lines of police. The original fans were some unemployed men who sat around parks killing rats for fun. That squalid image evoked another Argentina, the one that ended the 20th century with riots and a currency crash, a backstabbing society where life is, as one Argentine put it to me, “a war of all against all.”

I had met the Rat Stabbers by physically pushing into their red-and-white-clad column as they marched toward the Cylinder, a high-fascist coliseum built in the 1940s by dictator Juan Perón—a Racing fan—with public funds. The swooping concrete is still dominated by Perón’s swan-necked tower, its omniscient eye now filled with the cameras of Copresede—a police surveillance agency called the Provincial Committee on Sports Safety—who are charged with stopping the most violent soccer fans in the world.

We squeezed through funnels of policemen watched by lines of horsemen and backstopped by rows of cop infantry in full riot gear. Specialists in nitrile gloves patted down the males in our cohort. ­Behind them were plainclothes Copresede agents holding mug shots of some of the 400 Rat Stabbers banned from their own team’s games.

The Rat Stabbers started up their brass band, for courage, and with a hard push about 2,000 of us were swept up the stairs and jammed into the visitors’ terrace. Here, penned by metal fences and more police, we were pressed shoulder-to-shoulder, immobile, for two hours, a single screaming entity heaving up and down.

Problem: we had 2,000, but the Cylinder seats 64,000. It wasn’t absolutely full, but I’ll stick with my guess that we were outnumbered by 60,000. They were dancing in great waves, a sea of blue and white, their noise drowning out even the Rat Stabbers’ band.

The game went badly. Not for Racing, whose diehard fan club, the Imperial Guard, gathered below our terrace, taunting, calling up challenges. Come down here and say that to my face.

The Rat Stabbers retaliated by spitting, and they managed to heave firecrackers and a smoke bomb over two layers of fencing. Nobody would remember the game later, not even the score. But they would remember this, the battle.

Goals are nice. But fighting is forever.

I’VE BEEN FASCINATED—OR should I say terrified—by Argentina’s violent brand of soccer since 1996, when I saw the Buenos Aires team Boca Juniors play in their notoriously tight little stadium, La Bombonera. Boca is famous for the quality of its play but also for its fan club—La Doce, the 12th Man—which has occupied the same north terrace for half a century, always standing, always singing, usually fighting.

That night, Boca fans began the match in style, igniting Roman candles that spewed red flames, sparks, and smoke over their heads. Enormous blue-and-gold flags unfurled from the upper levels. It was intimidating to watch from the opposite end, where I stood with a few thousand supporters of a team called Gimnasia, 50,000 people hating on me and my new friends.

The unaccountable happened: the unheralded Gimnasia handed Boca its worst defeat in half a century, a 6–0 stomper that sent waves of Boca fans crashing against the fencing that protected us. Trash and cups filled with urine rained down on us. Fleeing with Gimnasia fans, I found the streets of a great capital awash in cavalry and tear gas.

Don’t cry for Argentina. Brazil may be more famous as a soccer nation, the beautiful game embodied today by the 20-year-old juggler Neymar. And Europe remains soccer’s ­center of gravity: English clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea rule the global bandwidth, and Spanish clubs have ruled the pitch, bringing home two European champion­ships in the past five years.

Yet, often enough the Europeans get there with an Argentine: Barcelona’s striker is the shaggy-haired, fertile-footed Lionel Messi, the dominant player of this age. Sergio “Kun” Agüero and Carlos Tévez, who led Manchester City to this year’s league championship, are both Argentines. So is Paris Saint-­Germain’s Javier Pastore. In 2009, Argentina surpassed Brazil as the world’s top producer of soccer talent, farming out 1,700 players to professional leagues abroad. Soccer goes deep here—the first league was founded in 1891, the third-oldest in the world after England and the Netherlands.

But what Argentina really excels at is not so much the play of soccer as the bloodsucking financial exploitation and mob atmosphere that accompanies it. Corruption, of course, is nothing new in the sport. Italian teams are suffering their second ­major gambling scandal in six years, with reports of one player drugging his own team. Sepp Blatter, the four-time president of soccer’s global body, FIFA—the Fédération Internationale de Football Association—has set a low standard, trailed by clouds of bribery allegations and the same marketing scandal that recently brought down Brazil’s longtime soccer boss Ricardo Teixeira.

Of course, many nations produce dangerous fans. Games in Milan feature knife fights, England has long had its “firms” of hooligans, and racist “ultras” are a problem in Italy and Eastern Europe, where last year Polish fans threw Nazi salutes at Russian rivals. But the English hooligans of the 1980s fought for bragging rights, not money, and now they’ve been tempered by a national surveillance state. Across Europe, working-class fans have been outpriced by a move to champions or premier leagues, with their transnational schedules and sky boxes and crowd control.

Argentina’s fan clubs, meanwhile, have become “not quite as violent as the Bloods and the Crips, but similar,” says Andy Markovits, a University of Michigan political scientist specializing in soccer culture. In the 1980s, Markovits says, the fan experience in South America was “a cakewalk” compared with what was happening in Europe. Today it’s the reverse.

With nicknames like the Drunkards of the Stands, the Garbage Men, the Blue Pirates, the Gangsters, and the Scoundrels, the fan clubs for the 40 professional teams playing at Argentina’s A and B levels have been around almost as long as the teams themselves. But over the years, many of them have morphed into organized syndicates called barras bravas—literally “rowdy gangs”—that control most aspects of the teams. South American teams are private clubs, owned by their members. That leaves fan clubs, with their big voting blocs, able to make or break club officials and thereby control coaches and athletes. The most notorious barras—Boca’s La Doce, River Plate’s Drunkards of the Stands, and Quilmes’s Indians around Buenos ­Aires, along with Rosario Central’s Gangsters and the Lepers of Newell’s Old Boys in the ­provinces—have captured their stadiums’ concessions, monopolizing sales of soda, hamburgers, and jerseys. La Doce has one of the best scams, taking in somewhere around $125,000 to $150,000 a week in parking fees for home games. The barras routinely skim off players’ salaries. And, like Sopranos of South America, the strongest assert a criminal influence at the global level, taking cuts of the ­transfer fees charged when an Argentine player leaves for the European premier leagues.

But the barras don’t stop at profiteering: they have also been implicated in crime—from petty drug dealing, narcotics trafficking, and money laundering to beating not just rival fans but sometimes their teams’ own players. Last October, after San Lorenzo defender Jonathan Bottinelli scored an own goal to lose a game, three barra soldiers walked onto the practice field and beat him up—in front of his teammates.

Surely Bottinelli knew the history of recent killings. In 2005, for example, there were six soccer ­murders, including the shooting of a Rat Stabber during a massive fight with ­police. Five died in 2006, including a fan killed with a rock in a train station, and four in 2007, including two in internal fan-club feuds. Six were killed in 2008, another eight died in 2009, and 2010 saw 11 deaths, including a Boca fan beaten by rivals at the World Cup in South Africa and the wine-bar assassination of the country’s most powerful barra leader.

When I landed in Argentina in May, the violence was mounting faster than ever. A Nueva Chicago supporter was beaten to death with a crowbar in an internal feud; a few days later, a rival was killed as payback. A faction leader from the Drunkards was shot in the head. Three Rosario fans were gunned down by someone from Newell’s, and during my visit, some Unión fans shooting at a Newell’s crowd accidentally killed a bystander. By the close of the season in June, the death toll was already nine. And a new season would begin in August.

That violence has degraded the game itself. Every player who can follows Lionel Messi abroad, and when these dispersed stars do ­reas­semble as a national team, they crumble rather than cohere. At the 2010 World Cup, Argentina covered the South African grass with talent but was humiliated: Messi was unable to score a single goal in the tournament, and the Germans packed their bags 4–0.

This sense of rising crisis, of a country and a sport destroying itself, was what lured me back to Argentina. The Argentines invented a new way to steal money, they used it to crush their enemies, and now they will ruin their own beautiful game. All while raining goals.

SUNSHINE KILLS MAFIAS, BUT the sun goes down early in the ­autumn streets of Buenos Aires, and the evening game is still hours away as photographer Marco Di Lauro and I turn up a small street and come face-to-face with about 500 members of La Doce, Boca’s notorious fan club. The hardcore of La Doce always rally before a game in a parking area three blocks from the stadium. Tetra Pak boxes of cheap wine are piled in pyramids, clouds of marijuana drift everywhere, and the testosterone flows freely. Everyone is dressed in blue and gold, including me. I’ve borrowed a natty blue zippered number, emblazoned in gold with an elaborate club seal: CABJ, for Club Atlético Boca Juniors.

Boca. Not just the most famous team of any sport in South America but an icon, a myth. The Boca neighborhood is a grimy working-class port, and the team represents the poor man’s side in the class war that is Latin America. Boca has underdog charisma but wins like the ­Yankees: scores of national titles, as well as five South American championships in the past decade alone. It has its own museum, where you can buy thong underwear in team colors. Outside you can get your picture taken with a statue of Diego Maradona, the avenger who rose from the slums to dominate the global game and humiliate England with his infamous Hand of God goal at the 1986 World Cup. Twenty-five years later, the sight of Boca’s blue-and-gold strikers coming up the field is enough to tighten the sphincter of any goalie.

Our guide is Sergio Caccialupi, known to everyone as Paco, a grizzled Boca fan and a member of La Doce since the 1970s. Paco has agreed to escort us for an extortionate ticketing fee ($150 apiece), typical at Boca games. He is thin-faced, jittery, and scarred—­according to his autobiography, sold at the stadium store, he spent the 1980s peddling 30 kilos of cocaine a week, survived two jail terms, and once went all the way to Rio to fight supporters of another team. (“Better a thief than a policeman,” his father told him.)

Despite my suit of blue armor, I’m immediately threatened with stabbing, robbery, and buggering. But that’s par for the course, a sign I’m being accepted, or at least tolerated. Taunting is the core of hooligan life, and I plaster a broad smile on my face and take a nip of whatever is handed to me—red wine mixed with Coca-Cola, then red wine with orange soda, then Fernet with lime soda.

Trying to establish my bona fides, I mention that I was present here when Boca suffered its worst defeat in half a cent—

“Six to zero,” Paco says.

“1996,” another voice says.

“Gimnasia,” a third man adds. “That was the worst day of my childhood.”

I’m losing friends quickly. The men talk among themselves in lunfardo, the rapid Italo-Spanish dialect of Buenos Aires. “They have to pay,” one man says. Another warns Paco, “Don’t let them see anything.” Another volunteers to his friends that he’ll rob me if he gets the chance.

I call him out. “Why are you going to rob me?”

“That’s what I do for a living,” he replies coolly. On weekends he goes to Boca games. Monday to Friday, he robs tourists in the same neighborhood. If I go walking around, he says, “90 percent chance we will rob you.”

Time for protection. We give Paco the agreed-upon fee for two ­entries to the La Doce terrace. Cash, no receipts. Paco assures me that numero uno himself—La Doce boss Mauro Martín—has approved our attendance, and indeed, a few minutes later Martín strolls past in a white track suit, his red eyes giving us a once-over.

We’re in.

NINETY MINUTES BEFORE THE game, Paco suddenly says, “Let’s go.” We follow him not toward La Bombonera, its steep concrete walls painted blue and gold, but down a side street, through a quiet tennis stadium, and into some locker rooms before emerging to face a high fence of sheet steel. A knock, and a door opens. We are suddenly at the stadium gates, having skipped three lines of security. It’s amusing to see a dozen Buenos Aires officers look away deliberately. We go straight to the entrance of the tribuna popular, the world of La Doce. It’s the celebrity treatment, the Paco passage.

We do have to go through the turnstiles themselves. “Where are you from?” a policeman asks as he pats me down. America, I tell him.

“Welcome,” he says. And, looking up from my ankles with a smile, “Good luck in there.”

Paco hands us our “tickets,” digital passes that belong to someone else—in my case, a youth named Mariano. Marco, an Italian war photog­rapher who has spent more than 1,300 nights embedded with troops in Afghanistan, is apparently my mother, Maria.

We climb slowly up four flights of stairs—Paco, worn by hard ­living, has to rest on each landing—to reach the terrace, perhaps the most feared and tightly defended real estate in world soccer. “You have to sit here,” Paco says, indicating a section on the left. “You can’t take pictures over there,” he says, turning toward the center. “Stay away from that part. It’s where the boss sits. Don’t even point your camera over there. You can take pictures in other directions, but don’t even look over there.”

The regular Boca fans pile in during the next hour. La Doce has no official membership—“Only the police keep a list,” Paco says—and our terrace packs in with four or five thousand fans. But just a few minutes before game time, the dedicated core of the barra brava march in. These are our 500 friends from the parking lot, singing and waving huge flags as they follow the band to that central forbidden zone. ­Mauro Martín is in there somewhere, hiding from photo­g­­raphers behind a ring of loyalists and a drapery of banners. (“If they become famous, they get arrested,” a police officer told me.)

Martín is not the only boss in the house. Diego Maradona has flown in from Dubai, where he coaches a team called Al Wasl. Various ­derailments—cocaine, tax evasion, a brief exile in Cuba—have only deepened the love affair between La Doce and their idol, who sits in a box at midfield.

The singing builds, the flags wave, and for a while we are inside the joyous machine of a fan club, exactly where I always dreaded, a stomping, jeering, cheering, and drunken band of warriors. The ­enemy—the Brazilian team Fluminense—takes the field amid a deafening chorus of 40,000 boos. When Boca comes out, La Bombonera explodes into a wall of bass drums and chanting: Dale, dale, Bo! Dale, dale, Bo! Dale, dale, Bo! Bo-ca! Let’s go, Boca!

The Brazilians give the stadium a scare: two quick attacks on goal. La Doce only sings louder, draining the atmosphere with a version of “Volare” for 20,000 voices. Yet few of us can even see the action. There are too many banners draped over our heads, and many fans sit facing not the field but the band. Petty drug sales are one of La Doce’s biggest rackets, and dark green buds are passed around openly, rolled up, and smoked in titanic quantities. Putting a buzz on top of a drunk leaves quite a few fans in the same state as Paco—so wasted, so early, that he lists to one side, nodding to the simple beat of the chants.

A string of menacing tough guys approaches, threatening us if we take pictures. One says, “This is our house. Nobody takes pictures in our house. Nobody.” Paco has promised us this access, but he’s too drunk to speak, and my Boca jacket has no magic here. A wiry, wide-eyed man screams at us bluntly: “You take one more picture, your cameras are going to fly through the fucking air!”

Game over. The Brazilians suffer a sudden setback, a red card to their player Carlinhos in the 34th minute. Two riot policemen escort him off the field under a hail of small objects tossed down by La Doce. The match turns into a mismatch: 11 Boca players grinding down 10 Fluminense rivals. The Boca striker Pablo Mouche eventually slides one across the mouth of the Brazilian goal.

Fluminense almost get an equalizer, but a Boca player blocks the shot with his right arm. It’s one of the few plays I witness, occurring right below us. But the referee doesn’t see it, and the fans don’t want to. Diego “Hand of God” Maradona is in the house. Boca wins 1–0.

THE FIRST MURDER SPAWNED by Argentinean soccer can be traced to 1924, when a Boca fan shot a Uruguayan rival during a tango-style showdown outside a luxury hotel in Montevideo. Sometime in the 1950s, the fan clubs organized for self-defense. La Doce took its fierce, fistfighting form in the 1970s. Then, around 1981, in the last violent days of Argentina’s military dictatorship, the fan killings ­accelerated. Journalist Amílcar Romero, who wrote a history of soccer—this country also produces philosophers and artists specializing in the sport—divided the violence into three ­periods. Only 12 fans had been killed during the roughly 30 years following that first hotel murder. In the next three decades there were 102. The next 30 years saw 144 dead.

But Romero counted only game-day deaths. The antiviolence group Salvemos al Fútbol tallies 269 soccer-related deaths in its running count—with much of the killing moving off-site in recent years. In 2009, for example, the former Lepers leader Roberto “Pimpi” Camino was shot four times while leaving a wine bar late at night. Today the violence often takes place within the fan clubs themselves, in fights to control the barras’ growing incomes and the benefits of their power. “They fight over money and women,” one sportswriter told me. (He insisted on anonymity, saying, “No Argentine journalist could write this story,” for fear of retaliation.)

One of the few to take that risk is a five-foot-three-inch platinum blond lawyer from Buenos Aires. Forty-four-year-old Fabiana Rubeo is a Boca devotee, but she grew tired of seeing soccer ruined by its fans. In 2006, she founded an antiviolence non-profit called New Horizon for the World. Tiny and unthreatening, she charmed 160 leaders from more than 40 barras into attending a peace summit, where they agreed upon a Ten Commandments of barra etiquette.

Yet, the first thing Rubeo tells me when I show up at her office is that she has given up her campaign. She was threatened by criminals, ignored by the government, and mocked as “naive” by the Buenos Aires newspaper Pagina 12.

“Nobody supported us,” she says. “I don’t want to be Don Quixote tilting at windmills.” All that’s left of her effort is an agreement by gang leaders to throw back balls that land in the stands.

“Here, everything is mixed up between soccer and politics,” Rubeo says. She cites the example of Bebote (“Big Baby”), the current Red Devils leader from Independiente, whose real name is Pablo Alejandro Álvarez. Thanks to a close relationship with a trade-union leader and other politicians, Rubeo says, Big Baby got a lucrative travel concession, flying barra leaders to the 2010 World Cup at government expense. (South African authorities deported most of them immediately.) Likewise, Rafael Di Zeo, the former leader of La Doce, worked for the local legislature for years, before his love of publicity and stadium fighting combined to put him in jail.

Why doesn’t anyone fight back? Politicians keep the barras on speed dial, using them as paid flash mobs in the country’s fuerza de choque. This is the “collision of forces,” an Argentinean style of politics in which rightists, leftists, unionists, and any group that wants anything must put protestors in the streets. The fuerza de choque is a war of perpetual demonstrations and pickets, road disruptions and blockaded buildings. Soccer-style thuggery has infected the highest levels of politics; the president’s own son leads a nationalist “youth group” that stormed Congress in May, waving flags and shouting fight songs. Two years ago, an administration official who disliked a new book about inflation called on the fan club of Nueva Chicago. About 15 barra soldiers then raided the Buenos Aires Inter­national Book Fair, threw chairs, and fought secu­rity guards while chanting slogans against the startled author.

Rubeo puts me in touch with someone who knows one of these dangerous men—the head of the fan club for Lanús, a team from greater Buenos ­Aires. She wishes me luck but issues a warning. “Fútbol,” she says, “is like a Mafia family. If you are not in the family, you don’t come inside.”

The gangster meets me in a tobacco-stained bar on a cool autumn afternoon. He is huge, mostly muscle but wrapped in a layer of fat and covered in ­tattoos from his neck to his wrists.

He says that I should “gratify” him, a refer­ence to money, not sex. A Spanish TV crew paid him $5,000, he notes. I demur.

“I’ve been the leader of this barra for 12 years,” he says, suddenly angry. “I’m the long­est-serving leader in any barra. You under­stand what that means? We’re wanted men. We don’t do this for free.

“Argentina’s the best in the world at this,” he boasts. If only he means soccer.

Four days later, before a Lanús home game against All Boys, three barras on motorcycles open fire on Lanús fans, killing 21-year-old Daniel Sosa and wounding five others. Police recover three guns from outside the stadium.

The game starts a few minutes later.

MURDER HAS A WAY of improving things. Until 2010, the Rat Stabbers were among the worst in a nation of bad fan clubs and had driven ordinary fans away from Estudiantes games. But late that year the Rat Stabbers went too far, killing a policeman during a brawl.

Copresede dismantled the club. Leaders were jailed, and 400 dangerous fans were banned from the games. Since then a more normal fan club has emerged. Three weeks ­after my first outing with the Rat Stabbers, Marco and I join them in their hometown, La Plata, a chilly city on the coast southeast of ­Buenos Aires. We find the fans milling around a red bus on a Saturday morning, wearing the red-and-white jerseys of their team.

Georgie Blueskies is here, leading a subgroup of the new Rat Stabbers. Stout and deep-voiced, he embodies the reformed, middle-aged new fan—his ponytail ­going silver, his demeanor reflective. Women and even children are back at the games, a glimpse of what fútbol could be in this most productive of fútbol nations.

“These are normal people,” Celestre emphasizes as he drives us across town in his (red) muscle car, following the (red) bus to pick up more (red-clad) fans. “We’ll see how long that lasts.” Without constant police pressure, he says, the old violence will return, because the opportunities for corruption are always present in soccer.

“Here at the local level, it’s normally just ticket sales, parking, a portion of travel costs,” he says. “In other clubs there’s more money: the sale of shirts, even a percentage of a player’s salary. The leaders are always ­allied with politicians, with whichever party is in power.” The barras are becoming “executive gangs,” he says; some leaders are lawyers and professionals who mix with politicians in the expensive seats.

Celestre isn’t impressed with Copresede, whose list of 400 banned fans turned out to include a lot of dead people and children. “They are useless,” he says. “They never protect us from anybody.” He complains that some Rat Stabbers were recently attacked with stones and bottles by my old friends from Gimnasia, their rivals across town.

We end up at a traffic circle outside La ­Plata, massing for the drive to a game with archrivals Banfield, southwest of Buenos Aires. Their last game was canceled after Rat Stabbers threw firecrackers at the Banfield goalkeeper.

There are thousands of other fans, in 13 buses and a fleet of private cars. We’re surrounded by 100 or so cops, including a ­police bus, a dozen squad cars, and motorcycle ­officers riding tiger-striped bikes and wearing shotguns slung across their backs. The cops frisk anyone suspicious, meaning all the dark-skinned or rough-looking young men.

I briefly meet the Rat Stabbers’ leader, the extremely tall Ruben Moreno, who is very mellow, befitting the ­Spicoli-grade stoning he appears to have going. (“Welcome, welcome, no problems here.”) He is one of the Rat Stabbers banned from the games, so he won’t be traveling with us. But he has to stand around in the mud handing out the fundamental currency of his patronage network: free tickets.

The cops toss the buses, throwing (empty) wine cartons out the windows, and after some negotiation—we’re warned off one bus set aside for extra-heavy pot smokers—we board the musicians’ bus, a relatively calm one with some grannies on it.

Our convoy moves at a crawl, stretching the 75-mile drive into a three-hour parade. We roll like contractors in Fallujah, preceded by a flying squad of motorcycle policemen, the 13 buses interspaced with squad cars, more motorbike cops patrolling the flanks. As soon as we are moving, the beer comes out (it was hidden by the driver, under his legs) and then the weed (it was stashed inside a drum). The clouds of dope are kept to the back of the bus, somewhat, but I think the grannies are affected, because the whole way they are singing at the top of their lungs: We’re the Rat Stabbers / We smoke marijuana / And run from the police! Or this one, specially composed, perhaps: Everyone from Banfield is a whore! / Everyone from Banfield is a whore!

Finally, we shudder to a halt near the pitch. “Women first!” every­one shouts, which leaves a thousand men free to urinate on every fence in the neighborhood. Hundreds of grilled chorizos are bought and wolfed down in seconds, and we jog toward the stadium like a red tsunami. Inside, the younger fans unfurl their flags and the Rat Stabbers begin to sing and jump in place, overwhelmed by the joyful, forging power of being outnumbered during a raid on hostile territory. Even better, Estudiantes scores early, and then scores again, creating an ecstasy not seen since the Oracle at Delphi.

The Banfield fan club—called the Band of the South—isn’t amused, but the reactions of a mob are notoriously hard to predict. Every Argen­tinean game is rated in advance as low, medium, or high risk for violence; today is high risk. But the police have learned a lot over the past decade of murder and mayhem, and enormous riot fences separate us from Banfield’s seething barra brava.

It turns out that the cops welcome journalists for the same reason the barras don’t: publicity hurts criminals. I climb a surveillance ­tower looming six stories over the stadium and join a Copresede security team in a small control room. The officers are using cameras to zoom in on a young Rat Stabber trying to tear down the fencing. Walkie-talkies let them coordinate with a uniformed cop reporting a fight in the Banfield section. As the fighting builds, a pudgy, curly-haired officer in a dark blue sweater, Guillermo Suarez, cries out, “We’re going to have a quilombo,” slang for a huge mess. “Get an infantry cordon over there!” But some fans intervene, and medics soon pull the victim away.

Bored, Suarez shows me how to aim a camera at any part of the stadium, even the hallways. The passivity of watching everything all the time brings out the psychoanalyst lurking in every Argentine. “There’s no line between barra and not-barra,” he observes. “Look at those stands over there. Those are good seats. You’d think they were rational people. Professors. Good people. But it’s incredible. They go crazy.”

From up here, I watch the Band of the South, which has unfurled banners demanding the release of their jailed leaders. Banfield is ­going down—the final score is 3–0 Estudiantes—but the Banda is up, roaring, cacophonous, undoing some of the misery of their defeat.

After the game, the hardcore barras from Banfield wait outside their stadium. A hundred men in green track suits are chanting their loyalty in the cold, muddy street. It’s a frankly fascist scene: the agitated young fans displaying power, their heads shaved or cut close, their chants, their groupthink, their insistence on the superiority of their own side. Juan Perón loved soccer crowds.

While Marco and I are gawking, police cordons push the Rat Stabbers back onto their buses, and they drive back to La Plata. Stuck on foot in nowheresville, we dodge the angry Banfield mob and grab a public bus heading back to Buenos Aires. But the Rat Stabbers’ day isn’t over. During a roadside stop, some local men throw rocks at their caravan; everyone defends themselves, the younger Rat Stabbers pouring off the buses to retaliate. Police fire tear gas and rubber bullets, and the bus with the grannies has its windows smashed by rocks.

This smackdown doesn’t make the news. Not even the ­soccer news, where a “temperature report” in the national newspaper Clarín ­records the week’s fútbol outrages. (Fans of a team called Italia threw syringes at their own coach; the president of Independiente got ­another death threat; after a loss, 44 members of a Cordoba fan club ambushed their own players’ bus, threatening “a bullet for everyone” if the team didn’t advance a division.)

A riot. Some rocks. Gas guns. It’s just background noise.

IN THE END I find a clásico, a match between historic rivals. This turns out to be Boca at Racing, the same stadium where it began for me three weeks earlier with the Rat Stabbers. Now it was La Doce’s turn to force their way into the Cylinder.

La Bombonera is only a few miles away, so La Doce always marches there, across the dirty Río Riachuela on the Old Bridge. It’s more an invasion than a parade, and Marco and I narrowly avert a beating from a fan leader who recognizes us from the previous game. He draws a finger across his neck and tells me, “If you take a picture, we’re going to throw you in the fucking river.”

His threat is backed by a surging crowd of several hundred hardmen pushing toward us across the bridge. Chanting and waving flags, La Doce pours toward the Cylinder, with Marco and I running just ahead of them. We find refuge in a taxi, duck down, and are scooped up at the stadium entrance by friendly Guillermo Suarez from Copresede. “You just saved our lives,” Marco says.

Racing’s Imperial Guard puts on a huge display of sound and fury; there is confetti, a blazing red marine flare, and firecrackers thrown across the moat at the Boca goalie (they miss). The Guard have a nearly 60,000-man advantage over La Doce, but the Boca fans unfurl some old Racing banners they stole during previous street fights, a dangerous taunt. Copresede phones a Boca leader, and the war prizes disappear within minutes.

Finally, here is a real game, worthy of the title clásico. Our pals in the police let us onto the field itself, where we sit at the midfield line, smelling sweat and the acrid tang of smoke bombs. We’re so close that Boca’s hawk-faced coach, Julio César Falcioni, nearly runs me over while disputing a call.

For a moment, I can live in the beautiful game. Some of the world’s top athletes are tearing up the grass, and the play is fast, passion­ate, and clean—men shaking hands after knockdowns, a display of sportsmanship so missing in the stands. Protected by perhaps 1,000 cops, I finally feel safe in an Argentinean stadium.

A bit later, up inside the swan-necked tower, I join Suarez and five of his colleagues in the cramped Copresede surveillance center. Fifteen screens show feeds from 14 fixed cameras and 13 mobile units. The very top of the tower holds a swiveling camera with a super­powerful telephoto lens that Suarez controls with a joystick. We watch a man lighting a joint, then another pissing in a corner and a third getting beaten up by members of his own fan club. (“Copy,” Suarez says to an ­officer out in the terraces. “It’s to the right of the Rolling Stones banner.”)

Someone is shining a green laser in the eyes of the referee. Abusing the ref is normal—at Maracanã stadium in Rio, I saw fans shoot flare guns at one official—but Suarez and two colleagues rewind the footage and quickly track the laser to one corner of the Imperial Guard terrace. Suarez swivels his joystick and the camera locks onto an acned, monobrowed individual in a striped Racing jersey, holding his left hand to his ear. “Got him,” Suarez says. A beefy technical assistant hits the print button, and four copies of the kid’s photo are dispatched to police at the four exits used by the Imperial Guard.

The game is playing on a small television in the corner, ignored. I go back down to the smoke-filled arena, to my privileged spot beside the grassy action. In the first half Racing presses hard, dominating the ball, running triangles and through passes, to the delight of the Imperial Guard. But in the second half, the Boca striker Lucas Viatri receives a lofted pass to the middle. Facing away from the goal, he splits his momentum—a back-footed tap to the right, a quick turn to the left.

It takes only a second to relieve an hour of tension. Stepping around a flat-footed defender, Viatri reunites with the ball on the first hop, drilling a roundhouse. Time stops, physics takes over. The back of the net billows out. It is improbable, beautiful. Not just a gol but a golazo, according to the next day’s Clarín.

In Argentina, tomorrow is always better than today.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

Deportivo FAS
3. nov. 2013 12:04

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

Der er som nævnt oprettet en forening til bekmæmpelse af fodboldvold osv... kaldet " Salvemos al fútbol"

Her kan man læse om de nyeste tiltag - samt at se listen over fodboldrelateret dødsfald....seneste på listen en Newell´s fan på 13 år Gabriel Aguirre som blev skudt ned fra Central-tilhængere d. 20.10.2013.


Finder du noget tor Torcidas - kan du bare smide det op også.


Sin Estres....det er langt lidt forskelligt ud - inklusiv lidt finkultur osv - ellers går det godt for CR må man sige...Alajuelense slår América på El Azteca, Herediano har genfundet formen...det ser godt ud.

Fodbold i dag...

Clasico- Classicos:

FLA - FLU i Rio kl. 22.00, Sporting Cristal - Alianza Lima i Lima kl. 21.45, San Lorenzo - Boca 22.15

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

Deportivo FAS
3. nov. 2013 13:10

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

Saturday: Goals galore as Argentinos, Central and Racing earn big wins!

On Friday it was the weather that dominated proceedings but on Saturday it rained goals and, in the case of Olimpo, red cards. Olimpo were thumped 4-0 in La Paternal by Argentinos Juniors and finished the game with only 8 players after Jonathan Blanco, Damian Musto and Fernando Meza were sent off.

The most bizarre game of the day came in Rosario where Central followed up their clasico win with a thrilling victory over Atletico Rafaela. Trailing by two and missing two penalties, the home side still managed to earn a 3-2 win thanks to Hernan Encina’s late strike.

In another of the days relegation clashes, Godoy Cruz salvaged a draw against Belgrano in Mendoza leaving them still in the midst of the scrap and level with All Boys in the relegation table.

In the late kickoff, Mostaza Merlo’s Racing revival really took off, as they followed up Monday night’s first win of the season with a 3-1 victory against Gimnasia in La Plata. The home side were weakened following last week’s brawl with Arsenal and Racing were able to take full advantage with Luciano Vietto bagging a brace in the well-earned win.


Goals from Hernan Boyero and Daniel Villalba gave Argentinos a comfortable first half lead before things got a little out of hand after the break. Jonathan Blanco and Damian Musto both saw red, allowing Juan Ramirez to add a third and when Fernando Meza reduced Olimpo to eight, Caruso Lombardi’s men were able score a fourth through Enrique Triverio.…Wg6x6mK9d3U


Lucas Albertengo’s early goal and a Diego Vera penalty looked to be setting Rafaela on the way to an away win but the sending off of Juan Eluchans changed the momentum of the game and despite Federico Carrizo and Sebastian Abreu missing penalties, goals from Hernan Encina (2) and Antonio Medina reversed the scoreline.…GVqpQBYkXgs


Fernado Marquez gave Belgrano a first half lead but when the visiting defence were slow to get out of their box after clearing a corner it allowed Leonardo Sigali the oppportunity to avoid the offside trap, control the ball and tap the ball in, unchallenged.…4z27kIBsXno


Still bottom of the table but two wins out of three for Mostaza Merlo show signs of revival for Racing. Young centre-forward, Luciano Vietto’s close range header gave Racing the lead and Gaston Campi headed a second less than 10 minutes later. Facundo Pereyra did pull one back immediately but Vietto’s second, after the break ensured Racing won back-to-back matches.…iDHIgKZAvRg
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

Deportivo FAS
3. nov. 2013 13:36

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

A Yellow Card, Then Unfathomable Violence, in Brazil

A Grim Aftermath: Residents of Centro do Meio, Brazil, are still dealing with an attack on a soccer field that left two men dead. It began with a yellow card.

PIO XII, Brazil — It was midafternoon that Sunday when Otávio Jordão da Silva Cantanhede left on his bike to play pickup soccer. His father said he did not see him tuck a knife into his shorts or slide a blade into his backpack.
League Scoreboards

"This has nothing to do with soccer. It has to do with the lack of services that should be provided by the state, like policing and, above all, education. "

At 19, short and thin, Cantanhede rode through the remote town in northeastern Brazil with his younger brother George. They headed for the neighborhood of Centro do Meio, a few miles away down a red dirt road.

The lumpy soccer field had wooden goal posts with no nets. Grass had worn bare in spots, exposing the sandy soil. Informal matches were played there. One team usually wore shirts, while the other played bare chested. No bleachers or scoreboard obstructed the verdant backdrop of palm trees and banana trees and mango trees that gave wide shade to stray dogs.

During the first half, Cantanhede played on defense. Then he twisted his ankle or his knee and became the referee. It was June 30. That same day, 1,300 miles to the south in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s national team defeated Spain to win the Confederations Cup, a tuneup for the 2014 World Cup. Not until a week later would the world learn what brutality had occurred in Centro do Meio.

Fifteen or 20 minutes into the second half, Cantanhede ejected a player named Josemir Santos Abreu, 30, a friend and sometimes teammate who in an instant became an enemy. A yellow-card warning escalated into a red-card send-off, an argument, a lethal fight.

Cantanhede twice stabbed Abreu, who died by the time he reached the nearby hospital. In retaliation, the police said, Cantanhede was set upon by at least four of Abreu’s friends, whose bleakest impulses were fueled by alcohol, drugs and a crowd that stoked the violence the way wind stokes a fire. Cantanhede was tied up, smashed in the face with a bottle of cheap sugarcane liquor, pummeled with a wooden stake, run over by a motorcycle and stabbed in the throat, the police said. The moment of death remained uncertain. What came before did not stop another of the accused from a gruesome completion.

Graphic images taken by hospital workers showed that Cantanhede’s lower legs were cut off and left beside him like prostheses. His right arm and left wrist remained attached by strips of skin. He was decapitated and his head was placed on a wooden fence post across the road from the field.

“In the first moment, I didn’t believe it happened,” said Valter Costa dos Santos, the regional police chief and lead investigator in the case. “I didn’t think human beings had such perverseness to do this.”

For a week the story incubated in isolation. Then the news media picked it up, and it spread like a contagion. Two men lay in separate cemeteries beneath mounds of dirt and melted candles. A neighborhood invisible even in Brazil became visible to the world for the darkest inclinations.

People rushed to give meaning to the incomprehensible, to assign logic to the irrational. The killings were widely reported as an extreme example of soccer violence in Brazil, a grisly contradiction to joga bonito, to play beautifully, as the country prepared to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

The truth seemed far more complicated. It involved two murder victims — a distressed teenager and an older friend with a temper — and interior Brazil’s wider culture of knives and revenge. It touched on hopelessness and rage born of poverty and inequality, and mistrust that seethed from inadequate policing and uneven access to justice. When formal justice seemed weak and unresponsive to one killing, another score was settled as scores have long been settled in this region of Brazil — with private justice, bloodshed trumped by bloodshed.

Residents of Centro do Meio felt ashamed. The world did not know a humble community, only what had been described as a mob. Even some in nearby neighborhoods thought Centro do Meio was cursed.

When Livanete Santos, 13, told her schoolmates in Pio XII where she lived, some of the children made the sign of the cross.

“They were protecting themselves from us,” Santos said.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

Deportivo FAS
3. nov. 2013 13:39

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

Escalating Violence

In the final minute of an amateur match that he refereed about a decade ago, Raimundo Sá blew his whistle and motioned for a penalty kick. The offending team began crowding around, shouting, threatening.

“You won’t get out alive,” one player said.

Another intervened.

“He’s a policeman, he probably has a gun.”

Sá, a police colonel, told the story in his office in São Luís, the capital of Maranhão state, which includes Pio XII. He now heads a police unit responsible for crowd control at professional games in Maranhão.

Sá did not absolve soccer completely in the Pio XII deaths. The great passion in Brazil, the clamor of the ball, the samba celebration of style and flair, could also foster a kind of hypnosis, he said.

“A person curses or beats somebody, and it seems as if he is in a trance,” Sá said. “Someone snaps a finger, and the guy comes back to a normal state. It’s adrenaline.”

It was rare — and illegal — for a referee to have a weapon at a soccer match, but not unheard-of. At amateur games where there was no police presence in São Luís, some referees had begun carrying a knife or pepper spray for protection, Sá said.

For meager pay, he said, some felt, “I’m not going to lose my life over this.”

A sociologist’s study found more deaths directly related to fan violence in Brazil than any other country. The number escalated from an average of 4.2 per year about a decade ago to 23 in 2012.

The Brazilian soccer weekly Lance! reported 155 soccer-related deaths between 1988 and 2012, with only 27 arrests. But these deaths were mostly linked to fan groups, which are infiltrated by criminal gangs and have complex relationships with teams and the police.

What, if anything, did soccer have to do with the murder in Pio XII? Mauricio Murad, a sociologist at Salgado de Oliveira University in Rio who is considered the foremost authority on soccer violence in Brazil, called it a mistake to connect the murders to the sport.

“It doesn’t have a direct link with football,” Murad said. “It could have happened in any other place, in a bar. When we talk about football violence, it is between fan groups cheering for their team. This is an issue of violence in Brazil more than soccer violence.”

A study published in July by the Brazilian Center for Latin American Studies, an academic research center in Rio, depicted Brazil as the world’s seventh-most violent country. Only five to eight percent of homicides are solved, compared with 65 percent in the United States.

Impunity was a word often heard about unpunished criminals and corrupt politicians. The word needed no explanation, like the single names of Brazil’s soccer stars.

Contrary to widespread belief, the study argued, the spread of organized crime and drug trafficking was less responsible for murder trends than impulse — an argument between friends or neighbors, a domestic dispute between husband and wife.

While the murder rate had fallen in big cities like Rio and São Paulo, it had dramatically increased in Brazil’s northeastern states, the study said.

Larger in size than New Mexico, Maranhão was a place of pastoral conviviality and tropical lushness, but also one of the most impoverished and increasingly violent areas of Brazil.

From 2001 to 2011, the murder rate in Maranhão more than doubled, to 23.7 homicides a year per 100,000 residents, from 9.4 a year. The police were historically undermanned there. For a population of 6.7 million, there were 11,000 officers — compared with 34,500 in New York City — and a need for 6,000 more, said Sebastião Albuquerque Uchôa, the secretary of justice for Maranhão.

Sgt. Antonio Lima de Carvalho of the Pio XII police said: “Unfortunately we are behind in everything in Maranhão — police cars, men, infrastructure, phones. We don’t even have radios.”

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo

Deportivo FAS
3. nov. 2013 13:45

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

Knives and Justice

Pio XII, named for the pope whose response to the Holocaust has long been in dispute, is a cattle, agricultural and trucking hub of 22,000. Perhaps 200 families live in the neighborhood of Centro do Meio, an enclave of farmworkers, laborers and fishermen.

The simplest houses were made of mud with hard-packed dirt floors and roofs of tile or thatched palm fronds. Rising prosperity in northeast Brazil, coupled with land reforms and cash stipends, has helped lift millions out of stark poverty and introduced plumbing and electricity.

In this neighborhood, though, the safety net was fragile. In a country with the world’s seventh-largest economy, Centro do Meio remained a subsistence community with a grave understanding of the difference between what the state promised and what it delivered.

Motorcycles buzzed the bumpy, unpaved roads. Nelore cattle grazed the green countryside with fatty humps on their shoulders and folds of skin like fans beneath their necks and a bovine tolerance for heat that could feel equatorial even in winter. To catch a breeze, people sat on porches and pulled chairs beneath shade trees. They peeled green beans. They kept their windows and doors open, their eyes and ears open, too, for outsiders, of whom they were both welcoming and wary.

Visitors were offered a seat out of the sun, handfuls of bananas and guava fruit, meals of rice and meat, sometimes a hammock to stay the night. Children played flutes carved from papaya stems. Chicks scurried with their heads dyed pink and purple as if for Carnival. “This is a calm place,” José Cunha, 30, a farmworker, said as he sat on a stump beneath a tree. “You can fall on the ground drinking, and no one will mess with you. If you come to my house and you are hungry, we will kill a chicken and feed you.”

Neighbors could remember only one killing in recent years, during a break-in of a home. Yet when calm retreated in Pio XII, there were only seven local policemen and two police cars to keep the peace. Some residents complained that the authorities seemed as indifferent as they were short-handed.

Recently, when a rat ran from beneath her stove, Edna Maria dos Santos, 31, a farmworker, told her son to catch it. He stood there.

“You are just like the police,” she scolded him.

It was not uncommon to see a man carrying a knife, a slight bulge visible beneath his shirt. Joaquim Arruda, 67, a planter wearing a Yankees cap, pulled a five-inch blade from his jeans and told a long tale about himself and another man’s woman. He pointed to scars on his hand, arm and neck. He smiled and called it a love story.

“You need a knife to peel oranges and pineapples and to defend yourself,” Arruda said. “The police don’t help anybody.”

Edna’s husband, Manoel dos Santos, 30, a trash collector, said trash cans at the police station often contained knives, confiscated and discarded but not destroyed. Doctors and nurses at São Sebastião Hospital said they treated wounds from knife fights once or twice a month.

Alcohol, marijuana and crack cocaine were also prevalent in the area, the authorities said. Almerinda Alves Sousa, a nurse, treated patients who entered the hospital in anguish from drugs, unaware what was wrong with them. And young people who were hallucinating.

“People always leave home afraid of a fight,” Sousa, 27, said.

Reprisal as a form of improvised justice was traced by some academics to Brazil’s colonial times and the scheming of elite landowners and their armed supporters. It was part of the afflicted history of a country that was the last in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery and was once broadly dominated by agrarian oligarchs who dispensed favors and controlled rural areas like fiefs.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > Säo Paulo


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