Football and a never ending problem: the Latin American Hooligans

While soccer authorities and governments have been debating for years what actions to take to curb them, this reality continues to cause trouble in Latin America

Football and a never ending problem: the Latin American Hooligans

Football has long ceased to be a family sport in some parts of Latin America, where the so-called "barras bravas", or hooligans, have ended with the sports spirit to turn it IGNORE INTO violence. On July 25, a confrontation between the Colo Colo supporters and the U of Chile left three injured, the reason, the rivalry between fans, according to information from La Tercera. The problem is not local, but international. These groups exist in almost the entire world, with the common denominator of being violent and organized, with the ability to evade justice and cause fear among the fans.

Leer en español: El fútbol y un problema de nunca acabar: las "barras bravas"

The origin of the rods is old, the site Infobae makes an analysis about it, going back to the South American Championship of 1916. There, it narrates several dark episodes that include the death of fans, confrontations and threats to teams. The site says, according to testimonies of players of the time, that in 1930 the Argentine team was threatened with death. It also mentions the mix between organized crime, politics and these "amateur" groups.


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The connections between hooligans and organized delinquency

Being a leader in a “barra brava” is comparable to being a mafia boss, it is a big business. They receive tickets for their group, which they resell for their benefit. Also, surprisingly, they receive resources for the transfers of the players in Chile and in other countries of the region, according to La Tercera. In addition, to imposing their law in the stadiums, and with the economic power they acquire they can bribe politicians, policemen and expand their "business" towards drug trafficking.

In Buenos Aires, where several first division teams are concentrated, there is a huge rivalry between these groups and their dark businesses, which of course goes far beyond the stadium. The Argentine capital has experienced armed clashes between these groups, leaving dead and wounded in its wake, without the authorities having the ability to stop them, according to Infobae.

The examples are numerous in the history, only in 2018 several cases have attracted attention. Last May a young girl was raped in Santiago by hooligans of the U of Chile, taking advantage of the anonymity that gives them camouflage with the shirts of the clubs, according to El Universal de Colombia. In July, the head of the Atlético Nacional bar in Colombia was sentenced to 41 years for homicide, according to Caracol TV. In the same month, El Clarín de Argentina reported on the arrest of a gang of thieves that included policemen, prisoners and a hooligan of the Gimnasio club, which shows the thin line between these groups and crime.

Measures against hooligans

FIFA has taken matters IGNORE INTO its own hands not only through local organizations, but also through groups that exist around the world. The organism and the federations apply fines to the clubs and hit the groups where it hurts most: punishing stadiums, vetoing bars and removing points. However, the measures have been insufficient because the power of these groups is great. In Peru, they have taken more serious actions, banning banderoles and musical instruments, in addition to restricting the delivery of special tickets for these groups, and rewarding those who perform best in stadiums, as reported by El Líbero.

On the other hand, Colombia is committed to organization and technology, which prioritizes security in stadiums in Bogotá, Barranquilla, Medellín and Cali through better logistics that include cameras in the stadiums (more effective police), facial recognition (delivery of cards and education and coexistence programs) in order to "not stigmatize the groups" as said  by the vice minister of the interior, Luis Ernesto Gómez, as reported by El Espectador.



Even the experience of Russia 2018 could be used in Latin America, the technology of the Fan ID and the facial recognition of the cameras used in the World Cup would allow to identify the violent or veto supporters in the stadiums to avoid that they continue to attend them. Although in Russia its main mission was to avoid terrorism, on this side of the world it could end violence in football.


LatinAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio

Copy Edited by Laura Viviana Guevara Muñoz

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