Tag Archive | "football"

Football Match Ends in Violence With Two Dead in Rosario


Newell's and Lanus game last night part of the Torneo Inicial 2013 (photo: José Granata/Télam/c)

Newell’s and Lanús game last night part of the Torneo Inicial 2013 (photo: José Granata/Télam/c)

A football match between Newell’s and Lanús, part of the Torneo Inicial 2013, ended in violence  yesterday after two men on a motorcycle opened fire on Newell’s supporters. Two have been declared dead and four are in serious condition in hospital in Rosario.

Rosario’s team Newell’s tied against Lanús in the final match of the tour. No violent episodes were registered within the stadium. However, some Newell’s supporters were in a minibus driving from Rosario back to Buenos Aires when men began firing at the vehicle after it crossed an intersection where the motorcycle was waiting. According to eyewitnesses, two men on a motorcycle were responsible for the violence and sources claim they were supporters of Newell’s main rival, Rosario Central.

The passengers in the minibus are from Buenos Aires and were beginning their trip back to the capital when the incident occurred. According to newspaper La Capital of Rosario, one of the deceased has been identified as a 39 year-old-man who received a shot to his face. The other man that perished was a 34 year-old that was shot multiple times in his head and chest. There was also a nine year-old child amongst the injured, who was shot in her hand. One of the deceased was the driver of the minibus.

The incident took place around 40 blocks from the stadium where the two teams played. According to the police, the crime took place in an area that is well-known for violence.

Police are investigating the attack. At the scene of the crime, they claimed the perpetrators fired around 12 shots and had no intention of robbing the vehicle.

This is the latest violent episode in Argentine football. According to the Argentine NGO Save Football, more than 70 people have been killed since 2000 in football related rivalry. In a bid to put an end to the violence, the government initiated a new system in July to check whether individuals buying tickets for games have criminal records. Before being able to purchase tickets, supporters must present an identity card with their biometric data and criminal record. This move would prevent those with criminal records from entering stadiums.

While efforts for controlling violence in stadiums have been stepped up, aggression outside of the stadium has been more difficult to curb, as this latest incident proves.

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Transfers and Triangulations: Following the Money Trail in Argentine Football


A new season of the Argentine football championship began in early August. Just like in every winter break, several players were transferred between clubs. Some of the clubs that purchased players, however, are still waiting for the transfers to be approved, as many of them are under investigation by the tax office (AFIP).

AFIP, through its director Ricardo Echegaray, revealed earlier this month that most of the transactions carried out during the winter break are being investigated. The transfer of Emanuel Gigliotti to Boca Juniors was put especially under the spotlight, but dozens of other transfers, involving Argentine clubs as well as others from Uruguay, Spain, and United Arab Emirates, are suspected of irregularities.

AFIP Offices (photo: Beatrice Murch)

AFIP Offices (photo: Beatrice Murch)

Football’s Tax Havens

A year ago, AFIP decided to start regulating the football transfers’ market. Back then, Echegaray presented a registry of “football businessmen” and agents. Anyone involved in these transactions had to be registered -from businessmen or businesses involved in purchasing players to agents whose job it is to secure the best deals for their clients (the players).

During the presentation of the registry, Echegaray provided a detailed explanation about the “triangulation schemes” used in transfers, which involve what he called “sporting tax heavens”. These are clubs in countries like Uruguay -among others- that mysteriously sign up players, but who never end up playing there.

These triangulations are generally carried out by club officials and agents, though it is hard to believe players are unaware of the mechanism. The benefit for those involved comes in the form of tax evasion, which in Argentina can amount to 35% of the transaction. According to an investigation by Alvaro Goitía from El Observador in Montevideo, the low tax rates awarded by Uruguay’s tax agency (DGI) make the country one of the preferred destinations for clubs and agents to transfer players to the European market.

Uruguay charges less than 5% of the total amount of the operation in taxes, making it tempting for those seeking to avoid taxes in their home countries, where it is hard to find rates below 20%. Transfers are then carried out through Uruguay selling, for example, a player from an Argentine club to a Uruguayan club for a lower amount and paying the 35% required by AFIP. Then, the Uruguayan club transfers the player to a European club for millions of dollars, paying the corresponding taxes to the Uruguayan tax office. The triangulation is thus completed, benefitting -through tax evasion- clubs, agents, and players.

AFA Logo

AFA Logo

‘Football For All’

Not long ago, AFIP entered the world of football in order to start controlling the flows of money from the Argentine Football Association (AFA) and the clubs. That is money, after all, that the state started providing after the implementation of the ‘Fútbol Para Todos’ (‘Football For All’) TV programme in 2009.

In August that year, the television rights of Argentine football changed hands, in what is considered a historical turn of events. AFA ended the contract it had held with Clarín media group for 18 years and the state started broadcasting all the First Division matches on free-to-air television -including the state-owned channel- in a move that has few precedents in the world.

In 2012, three years after AFA and the government signed the contract for the broadcasting rights of Argentine football, AFIP started to close in on the destination of the hundreds of millions of dollars that the clubs receive, through AFA, on television rights. During its first stage, the programme paid US$600m. In 2011, this amount went up to US$800m, and in 2013 the budget for ‘Fútbol Para Todos’ was US$1.2bn, according to a report by the director of the Centre for the Implementation of Public Policies for Equality and Growth (CIPPEC), Luciana Díaz Frers.

During these four years, the clubs’ debts continued to grow -a historical situation that has become structural in Argentine football. An investigation by Juan Mattio for the judicial news site InfoJus revealed that clubs owe a total of $1.4bn. Some $800m out of that total is owed by Boca Juniors, River Plate, and Independiente, which is now for the first time in its history playing in Division B (only two years after River was relegated).

The Gigliotti Case

Boca, which has never been relegated, is one of the clubs that has received the most pressure this season due to the irregularities found in the transfer of Emanuel Gigliotti. The striker played the previous season in Colón de Santa Fé, which owns 50% of his rights. The remaining 50% was owned by Fénix club, from Montevideo, one of the main “sporting tax havens” described by Echegaray.

Shortly after Gigliotti was transferred to Boca, the 50% of his rights owned by Fénix surprisingly ended up in the hands of Italy’s Novara club, which signed off on the deal by selling the player to Boca. AFIP carried out a thorough inspection in Boca to try and determine the real ownership of Gigliotti’s rights, and also investigated his agent, Jorge Cyterszpiler.

According to the tax office, Cyterszpiler owns two undeclared companies overseas: Fuder Sports B.V. in The Netherlands and Sport Management Services Ltd. in the UK. AFIP has requested information from those countries, from Uruguay’s DGI, and from Italy’s Novara Calcio football club. Colón de Santa Fe, a club managed by Germán Lerche, who is very close to AFA president Julio Grondona, tried to clarify their position by stating that the club “understands, based on AFIP’s resolutions and in agreement with the tax agency, that 50% of the rights are owned by the player himself and not by the institutions that have been mentioned as being part of a triangulation,” as published by Clarín newspaper in July.

Emanuel Gigliotti (left) is presented as a new signing for Boca Juniors in July (photo: Alejandro Santa Cruz/Télam/dsl)

Emanuel Gigliotti (left) is presented as a new signing for Boca Juniors in July (photo: Alejandro Santa Cruz/Télam/dsl)

Daniel Angelici, president of Boca Juniors, did not seem concerned about AFIP’s investigation, saying that “we live under the rule of law and if AFIP thinks there have been illegal dealings in any player’s transfer they must prove it. And they must prove it before the courts. We don’t know how AFIP works. According to AFA’s latest bulletin, Gigliotti and the rest of the transferred players have been authorised [to play]. I can’t see why they wouldn’t let players work. The federative and economic rights were held by Novara of Italy, which is the club Boca bought the transfer from. We have responded to all the requirements made by AFIP and Gigliotti has the right to work and to play for Boca.”

Gigliotti has indeed played for Boca, even though AFIP is still investigating irregularities in his and other players’ transfers.

Discrepancies

Only recently, on 2nd August, the agency announced that a high percentage of overseas transfers do not comply with current regulations. Echegaray revealed that his office carried out a media survey which indicated a total of 33 purchases of players from abroad for a total of US$12.5m. However, only eight transactions were registered in AFIP for a value of US$6.5m, and half of them are under investigation.

In terms of players transferred from Argentine clubs to overseas destinations, the situation is just as bad. AFIP’s media survey found 28 transfers for around US$31m, of which only eight were declared, for a value of US$18m. The difference is even greater when it comes to transfers within the country: of 144 transfers for $64m, clubs only registered 40 transactions for some $6m.

The picture painted by these numerous transactions gives a clear idea of the massive task AFIP is facing. Meanwhile, the Argentine football season is in full swing and many players whose transfers are under investigation are already playing in their new teams. In late July, AFA received a letter from the tax agency asking it to take measures in regards to these players. However, that is as far as AFIP can go, and it is up to AFA to decide if a player is prevented from playing due to contractual irregularities. In more complex situations, the Labour Ministry could also intervene, however that does not seem like an option for the time being.

After decades of playing the transfer game under their own rules, it remains to be seen whether AFA will be willing or able to enact effective rules to tackle these issues, as the state attempts to establish some accountability over the funds it provides to the football industry. The ‘Fútbol Para Todos‘ money has been flowing for four years, and the state is now trying to control the destination of those funds more firmly.

So far, on the surface at least, AFA has accepted AFIP’s decisions, modifying the usual transfer mechanisms to comply with the controls being carried out by the state – controls that a multi-million dollar programme like ‘Fútbol Para Todos’ deserves. But one month into the new season, with the players under investigation already appearing for their new clubs, an important question remains: what has really changed?

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AFA Bans Away Crowds and Non-Members at Football Matches


Estadio Maracana, Rio de Janeiro Brazil (Photo: Matthew Winterburn on Flickr)

(Photo: Matthew Winterburn on Flickr)

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) announced yesterday that only members from the home team will be allowed to enter the stadiums on match day, in order to stop the wave of violence that affects football.

This measure will be tested in the first two rounds of fixtures of the next championship, from the A to the D categories.

The decision, taken between AFA and the security ministries of the City of Buenos Aires, the Province of Buenos Aires, and the federal government, is expected to prevent supporters from the away team to infiltrate into the locals’ stands, thus avoiding fights.

The announcement comes ten days after the last episode of football violence, when two people were killed before a friendly game between Boca Juniors and San Lorenzo de Almagro.

Boca’s president Daniel Angelici immediately expressed his disagreement with the new conditions, claiming that “away crowds shouldn’t be penalised for [the actions of] two hundred misfits.”

The governor of Córdoba, José Manuel de La Sota, also rejected the measure, going as far as suggesting it will not be carried out in his province. “Let football be a family celebration. In Córdoba we want both [home and away] crowds at the stadium,” he wrote on Twitter, adding that “The CoSeDePro [Provincial Sports Safety Committee] has the power to decide if Córdoba plays with home and away crowds. Violent people out. They won’t take our celebration away.”

The first game of the first division championship is scheduled for Friday, while the second game will take place between Wednesday and Friday of next week.

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Two Boca Juniors Barra Bravas Killed In Shootout


The Barra Brava at La Bombonera, the stadium of the famed Buenos Aires soccer club Boca Juniors.

Boca’s Barra Brava ‘La 12′ (photo by Fabricio Di Dio)

Two people died and six were injured yesterday in a shootout before a football game between Boca Juniors and San Lorenzo de Almagro.

The confrontation opposed members of Boca’s ‘official’ barra brava, led by Cristian ‘Fido’ Debaux, with a dissident faction, led by Marcelo Aravena. They were fighting to get control over the away stands at the San Lorenzo stadium.

Boca and San Lorenzo were due to play a friendly match yesterday, however the game was postponed until Wednesday due to the incidents. The home team, San Lorenzo, decided to sell left-over away tickets that had been returned by Boca, despite warnings by the National Security Secretariat. The official barra brava went to the stadium before the ticket booth opened, as they intended to keep their rival faction from buying up the leftover tickets and ‘taking over’ the stand.

Indeed, hooligans approached the stadium with guns and iron bars. More than 150 shots were fired, ending in the death of two people. Also, six people were injured.

Marcelo Augusto Carneval, 33, Angel Martin Díaz , 44, both died from gunshots to the chest. Another man, shot in the knee, was sent to the Santojanni hospital.

The other wounded include 34-year old Carlos Alfredo Suarez, shot in the abdomen, 39-year old Gabriel Leonardo Marino, who received a bullet in his bottom, and Michel Angel Chávez, who was shot in his left arm. Two policemen were admitted at the Piñero hospital with trauma.

The police arrived 15 minutes after the beginning of the fight that lasted for half an hour. They arrested a man with a .45 calibre pistol and found a unloaded gun in the area.

“We asked these people to keep away from the club but they have been partners for over 20 years,” declared Daniel Angelici, president of Boca. “We have a part of the responsibility, but the main part belongs to the state. The police answers to the state and they are the only ones who can end this.”

Yesterday’s incidents were not without warning. Last week, during an Estudiantes game, the dissident faction of the barra brava tried to take over the stand by buying out all the tickets . The ‘official’ barra reacted by destroying two of their cars and beating some of their members. According to Clarín newspaper, which warned of the potential dangers in an article published in their print edition, the ‘official’ barra “only succeeded in delaying the battle”.

So far this year, there have been six deaths related to football violence in the country.

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Indepediente Football Team Relegated to Second Division


For the first time in history, beloved Argentine football club Independiente will play in the national Second Division. The relegation comes after the team lost to rival San Lorenzo 1-0 on Saturday in a Final Tournament match.

Club Independiente (source:

Club Independiente (source: www.clubindependiente.com)

Independiente descended to the Second Division for the first time in over 100 years of matches, after the team failed to come back after San Lorenzo footballer Ángel Correa scored.

The Avellaneda team will compete in the upcoming 2013-14 season in national Division B.

After losing to Boca on Sunday  9th June, the club knew that it could cede its Division A title in Saturday’s match, as San Lorenzo had defeated Argentinos Juniors last Monday.

On the field with San Lorenzo, the Independiente players reportedly appeared uneasy, knowing they had much at stake in Saturday’s match. San Lorenzo dominated the pitch for nearly the entire match, which was held at the Independiente stadium in Avellaneda.

As the match ended, Independiente players gathered in a circle at the centre of the field. Despite the devastating loss, the “El Rojo” fans continued shouting their team’s chants and cheers until the players left the field.

Independiente is considered one of Argentina’s Big Five football clubs, along with Boca Juniors, Racing, River Plate, and San Lorenzo.

The club has claimed 16 international football titles since its formation in 1905. It is the only team to have won the national finals four years in a row, claiming four consecutive national titles in the 1970s.

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Visiting Football Fans Banned From Final Tournament Games


Football Fans at La Plata Stadium (Photo Courtesy of Sam Kelly Flickr)

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) announced yesterday that visiting fans would be banned from the remaining two matches of the first division final tournament due to escalating violence.

AFA made the decision alongside  the national government after a Lanús fan was killed at the La Plata Stadium just before the club’s match against Estudiantes on Monday 10th June.

According to AFA, although the precautionary measure was originally meant solely for Buenos Aires Province, visiting fans across the country are also currently banned from entering match stadiums.

After meeting with the Executive Committee, AFA Secretary General Miguel Silva explained: “This is a logical and reasonable measure agreed upon by with the government.”

Lanús fan Javier Gerez, 38, was killed at the Estudiantes home field in La Plata in a clash with police officers. Officers at the stadium shot Gerez in the chest with rubber bullets, which sent him to the hospital where he later died. Monday’s match was delayed after the incident, although it was not cancelled until half time when the referee received the news of the fan’s death.

Buenos Aires Minister of Justice and Security, Ricardo Casal, announced yesterday morning that his office would not allow for visiting fans at games in “any division” and that the police would no longer shoot rubber bullets at matches.

He also ordered for the suspension and arrest of three officers connected to Gerez’s death.

Casal said: “This is over. In the Province of Buenos Aires there are not going to be any more visiting fans in any division until the AFA and the Agency for the Prevention of Violence in Sports (Aprevide) promises us that there will be no more violence on the football field.”

Gerez’s death on Monday evening was the tipping point in a violent weekend for Argentine football. A Velez-All Boys match was called off on Saturday after a scuffle between fans and police broke out and fans were tear-gassed.

However, football clubs like River Plate have criticised the AFA measure in spite of the recent violence. River coach Ramón Díaz said: “I hope that the problem can be solved quickly because for us and for the players, the support of our people and their encouragement is very important. As a coach, it’s never happened to me that we would play on the field without our fans, and it’s going to feel weird because football without fans is nothing.”

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Brazil: Truth Commission Questions President of Football Confederation


A Brazilian truth commission is questioning José Maria Marin, president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, about his involvement in crimes committed during the country’s last dictatorship.

José Maria Marin, current president of the Brazilian Football Confederation and former governor of São Paulo. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

José Maria Marin, current president of the Brazilian Football Confederation and former governor of São Paulo. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The coordinator of the truth commission, Attorney General Claudio Fontelles, expressed that Marin is suspected of having been involved in violent acts during the country’s last dictatorship. Fontelles added that Marin had made his “horrible attitude” apparent at the time while serving in public office under military rule.

Fontelles’ comments come after the truth commission reviewed tape recordings in which Marin makes hostile declarations against journalists, specifically threatening of one of the country’s major broadcasting networks, TV Cultura. The recordings were made several days before journalist Vladimir Herzog, who was in charge of TV Cultura at the time, was detained and subsequently assassinated.

In relation to these events, Marin is accused of serving as an accomplice in the torture and assassination of Herzog during Brazil’s military dictatorship of 1964-1985.

According to Fontelles, although the truth commission is working with a “reprehensible discourse” that points to Marin’s involvement, the recordings themselves may not be enough to accuse Marin of human rights violations.

Marin, who also serves as the current president of the Organising Committee of the 2014 World Cup was invited to appear before the truth commission of São Paulo tomorrow, where he has been asked to explain his conduct as a state representative during the decades of 1970 and 1980.

Marin began his political career as a city councillor in 1960, later becoming the state deputy and then vice-governor of São Paulo. He served as governor of the Brazilian department between 1982-1983.

Several human rights organisations and congress representatives have called for Marin’s resignation from the Brazilian Football Confederation.

Story courtesy of Agencia Púlsar

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Footballers’ Day: 60 Years of Argentina v England Rivalry


There are few matches on the international football calendar that generate as much passion and interest as Argentina v England, the ultimate sporting clash between the New World and the Old. Yet while most will remember the ‘Hand of God’ in 1986, few know that today Argentina celebrates the 60th anniversary of beating England for the first time, a triumph that was not recognised in England but led to 14th May being labelled ‘Footballers’ Day’ in Argentina ever since.

Grudge Matches

Over the past six decades passions have been inflamed on both sides as much by contentious events on the pitch as by the disputed sovereignty of the Falklands/Malvinas and the conflict over them which took place in 1982. The rivalry took on a bitter edge at the 1966 World Cup, where the Argentine side – later labelled ‘animals’ by England coach Alf Ramsey – complained that they were victim of an Anglo-German conspiracy when their captain Antonio Rattin was sent off for hounding the referee in the closely fought quarter-final. The match, known in Buenos Aires as ‘the robbery of the century’, turned in England’s favour, and Geoff Hurst’s solitary goal took the host nation through.

Diego Maradona Terry Butcher and Kenny Sansom during Argentina s 2 1 win over England at the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico 1986

Diego Maradona, Terry Butcher and Kenny Sansom during Argentina’s 2-1 win over England at the 1986 World Cup quarter finals in Mexico 1986

It was 20 years later that the Argentines gained revenge in the 1986 World Cup quarter final in México, the first game played between the two sides after the Falklands/Malvinas War, when Diego Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ set his side on the road to ultimate tournament victory.

The next two World Cup meetings in 1998 and 2002 were also mired in controversy: David Beckham’s petulant flick at Diego Simeone – who went down theatrically – earned him a red card which turned the tide Argentina’s way in 1998, while four years later, a dive worthy of Tom Daley by Michael Owen gained England the decisive penalty to decide matters.

The Birth of Footballers’ Day

The clásico between Argentina and England was born in 1951 when Argentina were invited to play England at Wembley as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations, the first non-European side to do so. After taking the lead with Mario Boyé’s goal, the hosts came back to win 2-1, but the defining performance came from Argentina’s goalkeeper, Miguel Ángel Rugilo, whose all-action, acrobatic display earned him a standing ovation from the Wembley crowd as well as the soubriquet, ‘The Lion of Wembley’. England made a reciprocal visit to Argentina two years later, playing two games as part of a wider tour of the Americas. It was the first match of this tour that would enter Argentine football legend.

The games were keenly anticipated in Argentina as the national team had played only a handful of internationals since winning the 1947 South American Championship. The team had been pulled out of international competition – most notably the 1950 World Cup held in neighbouring Brazil – at the behest of President Juan Domingo Perón’s government, who feared that defeat on the international stage would jeopardise his nationalist project based on Argentine excellence and self-reliance. A players’ strike in 1948-49 had seen many of Argentina’s best talent, including Adolfo Pedenera and Alfredo di Stéfano, depart for Colombia in search of better money, and so Perón felt that it was wiser not to risk defeat and loss of stature on the international stage with a team of lesser players.

The visit of England, on the other hand, offered the Argentines a no-risk gamble: if they won then the prestige would be enormous, but if they lost it was only to be expected against the ‘Masters of the Game’ as Clarín described the visitors who had brought the game to Argentina in the 1860s and proceeded to show their superiority in a number of club tours between 1904 and 1914.

The first of the two games was played on 14th May 1953 in River Plate’s massive horseshoe-shaped Estadio Monumental in front of 120,000 people. As far as the English were concerned it was billed as an FA XI match, not a full international. It was an opportunity to play some of their reserves and get jet lag out of their system before the official international three days later. The Argentines, however, took it seriously, wearing the official national team kit and playing the same team in both games, and including both the matches in its official international record.

Argentina’s selectors decided that with the national team not having played together regularly for some time it would be more cohesive to pick players en bloc from the same clubs. The entire defence came from Boca Juniors, the midfield from Racing Club de Avellaneda, and crucially, the famed forward line from Independiente (who would cement their reputation later that year by thrashing the Real Madrid side of Di Stéfano et al 6-0 at the Estadio Bernabéu), containing Carlos Lacasia, Carlos Cecconato, Rodolfo Micheli, Ernesto Grillo and Osvaldo Cruz.

England went ahead against the run of play through Tommy Taylor’s header, before Grillo equalised a minute later with a quite brilliant goal from a seemingly unfeasible angle that has lived long in Argentine football folklore as ‘The Impossible Goal’. As Grillo later recalled: “Lacasia passed me the ball close to the penalty area. I started to dribble and I believe that there were three or four English ahead of me. As I ran out of room on the pitch, I saw the keeper off his line and shot between him and the near post.”

Argentina then pressed home their superiority with another goal from Grillo and one from Micheli to run out worthy 3-1 winners and send the crowd into raptures. The president of the Argentine Football Association, Valentín Suárez, lavished praise on his team, saying: “We’ve beaten one of the most powerful sides in the world. I’m full of pride. Our young lads played with great heart and deserved the tremendous ovation they received when leaving the field.” Even the English press were forced to acknowledge that Argentina were the better team, with the Daily Mail’s Roy Peskett claiming that England’s players were like “carthorses chasing ballet dancers.”

The watching President Juan Domingo Perón was also so impressed by the performance that he declared that henceforth 14th May would be known as ‘Footballers’ Day’ in honour of the team, to be commemorated annually.

For the second match on the following Sunday, 91,397 spectators crammed into the Monumental to see whether England’s first choice 11 could do any better, only to go home disappointed when one of Buenos Aires’ notorious thunderstorms swept in from the River Plate estuary, flooding the pitch and forcing the game to be abandoned after just 23 minutes with the score at 0-0.

England left the country with a series defeat the blue touch-paper for the footballing rivalry between the two countries had been lit and the fireworks have not stopped since. Fans of both teams surely await the next installment with some relish.

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Wander Tours: Real Argentine Football


“It’s the fastest way to travel in Buenos Aires,” Chris Wander assured me before boarding one of the five buses packed tight with Argentinos Juniors supporters.

He wasn’t lying. A police convoy, sirens blaring, raced ahead plugging traffic at junctions as our rust-bitten coach led the procession at breakneck speed through the streets of the capital. The driver was equally zealous on the horn and any car that dared obstruct our passage was blown off the road by a blast of compressed air.

Wander Tour BA  (Photo: Wander Tours)

Wander Tour BA
(Photo: Wander Tours)

We stopped only for police changeovers at the city limits before reaching the Estadio Libertadores de América, home of Club Atlético Independiente, located just south of the city in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires Province.

Chris is the owner of Wander Tours BA and the knowledge on Argentine football. He personally takes groups of up to six – though larger parties can be organised- to experience football in Argentina the way it should be: amongst genuine fans chanting on the terraces. As a loyal supporter of the ‘bichos colorados‘ (as Argentinos juniors are nicknamed), Chris has formed a strong bond with the club and its fan base, so that when match day arrives, be it home or away, he makes sure to throw participants in at the deep end by fully immersing them in the “Bicho experience.”

“I have lived here for 12 years, so I can show tourists a football match not only through the eye of an expat but also the supporters. It’s a more personal and it’s exciting, you never know what is going to happen. It’s about delivering an authentic match day experience,” he said. Chris has connections with many clubs, including Newall’s Old Boys, CA All Boys, and Arsenal De Sarandí, allowing him to organise various tours.

The mood was optimistic ahead of the game; an early season relegation scrap. Sporadic verses of song broke out during the journey and the atmosphere was friendly. The travelling fans, most dressed in the red of Argentinos, were happy to talk and stressed the importance of the imminent match to our party of three, including David Richardson, a Scotsman and Hearts fan. “This is my third tour with Chris, it’s definitely the best way to watch football in Argentina. You feel involved, like a true fan,” he said over the bus’s engine as we stood holding onto the handrail while the metropolitan police changed guard with the provincial heavies, a fleet of armor-clad motorcyclists, each carrying a shotgun-wielding pillion.

After arriving in Avellanda we waited in line before being patted down by police dressed in riot gear. The Estadio Libertadores de América is an imposing concrete structure, partially built with the $23million raised by the 2006 sale of Sergio Agüero to Atletico Madrid, Chris explained. The stadium is unfinished, and the higher tier of the east stand remained empty, but this made no difference to the atmosphere. Half an hour after our arrival the Argentinos’ barra brava – La Banda de La Paternal – rocked up in a separate convoy. They don’t have a great reputation, much like the football hooligans in England, and tend to be more concerned with the potential earning power of the club as opposed to team form. Many of them hang out of the bus windows chanting during the journey but there was no trouble throughout the day.

After climbing the stairs we reached the terraces, a barren section of concrete steps hemmed in with wire netting and more police in riot garb. Supporters tied flags and banners to wire like they were the spoils of war and once the last of the barra brava were in things heated up and the party began. Tempers flared until the final whistle.

Wander Tours BA (Photo: Wander Tour)

Wander Tours BA (Photo: Wander Tour)

Argentinos Juniors eventually lost 3-1 in an untidy match. The standard of football wasn’t great, a brilliant strike by R. Lenis in the 63rd minute aside. Both teams appeared tentative, but it was an enlightening spectacle. The fans, from both sides, refused to stop singing, shouting, and hurling insults at the referee and players alike for the full 90 minutes. The tours are not for the faint hearted, and you must remain savvy as there is a lot at stake in Argentine football, people tend to wear their heart on their sleeve so emotions and tempers can erupt, especially if their team is losing. “My tours are about seeing this kind of football and emotion up close,” said Chris.

Dario Vaccarini, a life-long Argentinos fan and head of marketing and club museum, ran proceedings all day and he looked after us well, making sure we entered and exited the stadium safely. He even asked David to give a phone interview to the Argentinos’ radio channel, Radios Partidarias, before kick-off, which he did much to the delight of the travelling support. Once back in Buenos Aires we were invited to pizza and beer with a small section of fans in the club’s unofficial bar, not far from the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona or DAM as it is more commonly known. The stadium is steeped in footballing history: not only did Maradona play for the club but it was also the stage of Lionel Messi’s debut for the Argentine national under-21 side.

Another bonus is that Chris collects and drops off all those participating on his tours so there is no need to worry about getting home. Wander Tours BA also organise kayak day excursions in Escobar, which Chris assures is far quieter than tourist-heavy Tigre, personalised city tours, and airport and city transfers. Groups for international football matches are also possible. There was never a dull moment throughout the day and each stage, from the bus journey to standing on the terraces, offered an eye-opening glimpse of life as an Argentine football supporter.

On the whole the Argentinos fans were welcoming and made every effort to involve our group as events unfolded. For the more ‘relaxed’ football followers, Chris also takes groups to tour the DAM and club museum, offering fans the chance to stand on the hollowed turf once graced by Argentina’s finest players.

For further information about tours and prices visit the Wander Tours website or e-mail: info@wandertoursba.com.ar. Tel: +54 15 6621 2914

Wander Tours BA – May’s Agenda:

Sunday 12th River vs All Boys (with All Boys supporters)

Tuesday 14th Velez vs Newells (Libertadores Cup)

*Sunday 19th Boca Juniors vs Colon, Argentinos Juniors vs Belgrano

*Sunday 26th THE BICHO EXPERIENCE visits El Estadio Unica en La Plata . Estudiantes vs Argentinos, Racing vs Godoy

*Wednesday 29th Argentinos vs River Plate, All Boys vs Newells

*Sunday 2nd June THE BICHO EXPERIENCE visits San Lorenzo. San Lorenzo vs Argentinos, Racing vs Boca, Velez vs All Boys

*dates to be confirmed, tours dependent on match schedule.

Posted in SportComments (0)

Santa Fe Considering Football Security Department After Incident


stencil

stencil (danger police working) by PabloBD, on Flickr

The province of Santa Fe will consider creating a department of security concerned specifically with safety at football matches, the government of Antonio Bonfatti confirmed. Last Friday, violence broke out between Rosiario club Newell’s Old Boys and Belgrano of Córdoba, in which a police officer assaulted Belgrano player Gastón Turus with a cane.

“It is not possible that the minister or chief of police should have to get involved in the organization of four or five football games each weekend,” minister of provincial security Raúl Lamberto said.

The female police officer who assaulted Turus has been identified as Joana Seco and faces administrative proceedings with the Santa Fe Judicial Division of Police. Video from the match shows that Seco hit Turus below the eye with her cane, which resulted in Turus writhing on the ground for two minutes. A mark on his cheek was evident shortly following the incident.

Monday morning, Secretary of Public Security Matías Drivet said that the incident has some critics deeming “Santa Fe as the worst of all worlds.”

He questioned the criticism of the Argentine Football Union (FAA) and the need for a separate security entity, calling it “disproportionate.”

“On Friday there were undesirable situations because a player was physically assaulted,” he said. “An administrative investigation to determine the responsibility of the police officer involved. What else is certain is that three policemen and a fan of Newel’s were injured. The police response on the field was unjustified. Now, it must be said, the football player attacked the female officer. That is why the referee ejected him.”

Posted in News From Argentina, Round Ups ArgentinaComments (0)

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