Sunday, March 3, 2024

SPORTS | 07-02-2024 13:17

Two football fan deaths puts hooliganism back on agenda in Argentina

One fan stabbed to death during Chacarita Juniors-Deportivo Maipú match, another suffers same fate before Gimnasia Mendoza-Defensores del Belgrano clash.

Fan deaths at stadiums in Argentina have returned the issue of football violence to the fore.

Two supporters were killed at different ends of the country last weekend – one at the entrance of the Chacarita Juniors stadium, after an argument which had begun in the terraces, and the other outside Gimnasia de Mendoza stadium shortly before the start of a second division match.

The first death came on Saturday when a 43-year-old man was stabbed in the chest at half-time during a 2-0 home win for Club Atlético Chacarita Juniors over Club Deportivo Maipú. 

The stabbing at the stadium entrance was reportedly preceded by a widespread fistfight. 

The deceased, later identified as Jorge Daniel Durán, was admitted with vital signs to the Hospital Belgrano de San Andrés accompanied by his son. Unfortunately, doctors were unable to save him.

Police were able to identify the author of the crime via security cameras and the individual has been arrested. In a statement, Chararita Juniors expressed the club’s “most energetic repudiation” of the violence.

The death was the "product of huge quantities of alcoholic drinks and drugs," Guillermo Cimadevila, head of the Agencia de Prevención de la Violencia en el Deporte, told local press.

On Monday, Durán’s coffin was carried across Chacarita’s pitch in Buenos Aires by members of the club’s ‘barra brava’ hooligan gang, who mourned their friend in posts on social media.

Club President Néstor Di Piero admitted to Infobae that he had authorised the funeral “cortege.”

"We were at the wake because it was the right thing to do. This man and his whole family have been members of the institution for 15 years and we went to pay our condolences. His inner circle asked me that when the wake was over they wanted to come to the stadium to pay tribute to him, and how could you refuse?" he said.

“They are people from Chacarita going through an immense pain that we share. That's why they were let in," added Di Piero.


Second death

Last Sunday, there was another fatal stabbing over 1,000 kilometres away to the west at Gimnasia Mendoza’s Víctor Antonio Legrotaglie stadium in the course of a 1-0 home defeat by Defensores de Belgrano.

The murdered fan was identified as 32-year-old Ricardo Nicolás Balle by the Télam state news agency. According to reports, he was stabbed in the chest and died on the spot.

Five other people were injured, one with a gunshot wound, a prosecutor informed the local press.

Among the injured was the deceased’s father, 52-year-old Ramón Ricardo Balle, who is said to be a member of a hooligan group that supports Club Atlético Gimnasia y Esgrima (Mendoza).

The incidents come after fan violence dominated the run-up to last month's league game between River Plate and Argentinos Juniors. Videos of brutal clashes between supporters close to the home side’s Monumental stadium circulated online prior to the match. Police made more than 30 arrests after the disturbances.

Hooligan clashes were also reported at last weekend’s Aldosivi-Atlético Rafaela match at the Estadio José María Minella in Mar del Plata last weekend. One fan was arrested for firing a handgun eight times before the start of the match, though no-one was injured.


Ongoing problem

Hooliganism and fan violence has been prominent over the last four decades and away supporters are banned from attending top-flight football matches. There have been over 300 violent deaths linked to professional football in recent decades, according to the NGO Salvemos al Fútbol. 

President Javier Milei’s government recently named 25-year-old law graduate Franco Berlin, an ex-chauffeur of Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, as director of security for national sporting events.

The appointment of Berlin, who said in a recent interview that he does not attend football matches, has been questioned by members of the sporting community for his lack of experience.



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