Claudio Tamburrini, whose escape from a clandestine prison during the 70s was portrayed in the film “Crónica de una Fuga”, details in this article with a serious issue of Argentinean society: violence in football. He understands this violence as a political phenomenon, which could only be eradicated if there is a true political will to do so.
Tamburrini, as a former football player, feels like football should be about playing, competing, and having fun. The audience should be there to enjoy and encourage their teams. But reality shows quite a different thing. Football is also a place of violence and criminality, and “barras bravas”” are much to blame for this. Violence in football is neither a new phenomenon nor it is an exclusively Argentinean issue. The case of British hooligans in the 70′s and 8o’s is probably one of the best known examples. British authorities were able to eradicate violence from the stadiums, but the cost, according to many, was quite high: the party and the passion that should be also a part of a sport competition was also eliminated.
Tamburrini further explores the debate and tries to determine where the limit between a “barra brava” and an “ordinary fan” lies. The truth is that many ordinary fans’ behavior in the stadiums can be also understood as criminal. They insult, threaten, and throw objects to the players, among other things. He concludes that the difference between a “barra brava” and an “ordinary fan” is only a matter of degree, and not a substantial one. Both behaviors are rooted in the macho and aggressive ideology of sports such as football. If violence is indeed inherent to football, how can it be eradicated? Tamburrini suggests that even though cultural factors may play an important role, the real key to stop violence is the political will to do it.
In the case of Great Britain there were no political ties between hooligans and the clubs authorities. In the Argentina the situation is much more serious. “Barras Bravas” are usually seen travelling around the world, following their teams in international competitions, and they are able to travel because they have deep ties with the clubs authorities and even with the Argentinean Football Association (AFA). Under these circumstances, where the phenomenon of violence is actually a part of the power structure of football, the end of violence is hard to imagine.