Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
First there was fear and loathing, now we have chaos and violence. It has been one of the saddest couple of weeks in Argentine football for years.
At the best of times, Argentina feels like a society hanging from a thread, but sometimes it feels as though even this is unravelling. As I write, I can hear massive protests outside my downtown office window to complain about new taxes on agriculture. And then there are the people who have taken to the streets to complain that people are complaining about taxes on agriculture.
As a result of various pickets, milk prices are rocketing and the butchers' shelves are empty. When an Argentine can't eat his steak all hell breaks loose.
It would take a better sociologist than me to make the link between these wider problems and an increase in violence on the terraces but although it might be an exaggeration to say Argentine football is in meltdown, it is clear that there are some deep, unsolved problems.
Two weeks ago two young supporters died in separate shooting incidents. This weekend, however, the true extent of the internal fight for power of the River Plate barra brava became horrifically apparent live on TV with an audience of thousands.
In clear view of the country's media, one faction of the barra brava attacked their rivals with knives and belts on the terrace of Velez's stadium. Around 40 fans were detained on their way out, but why the police let in an entire faction of one barra brava unchecked and unfrisked, most carrying knives, must be questioned.
River Plate barra brava attack rivals with knives and belts
The last week has also seen the resignation of four managers. Independiente, Colon, Banfield and, yesterday, Racing have all replaced coaches. Of those, the most crucial dismissal was at an increasingly troubled Racing.
On the point of bankruptcy and in the midst of a full scale revolt by the fans, Argentina's only privately owned top-flight club (the rest are cooperatives) looks as if it will be changing hands pretty soon.
Their last game was a sad affair, after the Argentinian FA forced them to play behind closed doors due to violence at the previous game. They lost 2-0 to San Martin, and if the same team beat Huracan tonight, Racing, one of BA's most supported clubs will find itself in the relegation zone. Claudio Cristofanelli, a forward with 217 games for the club under his belt takes over. And finally, some good news... Argie Bargy wishes San Lorenzo a happy 100th birthday. To celebrate, why not check out a few clips and the history of the club here?
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