The readings this week were really interesting. Quite scary, actually.
The readings were about these mini-mafias in Argentina called barra bravas. These barra bravas are like soccer fan gangs. Often in the barra brava is a leader, like a mafia boss, and structured power. There are crimes committed- ranging from drug dealing to murder- to legal yet unethical attacks – political corruption- on the public.
Barra bravas have been the cause of more than 257 deaths since 1923, more than half occurring in the past 2 decades according to the Washington Post. For soccer, that’s too many. Not to make this political, but that’s too many deaths regardless of the situation. But the deaths for a sport make it scary. Apparently some Argentine fans broke into a player-only section of a stadium after a game and beat a player. As a player, obviously, I’d feel extremely uncomfortable with returning to the team. The player of this team eventually did, but he said he was uneasy and a little nervous.
Part of the reason these barra bravas are staying around is the fact that they are getting to the youth. Kids in search of heroes and role models cannot often find it in Argentine soccer players; the Argentine players that excel and are worth looking up to are often players that leave Argentina for Europe. Because of this, children are looking up to these barra brava leaders and wish to follow in their footsteps. One leader served 3 years in a prison for assault, came back after being released from prison and started signing autographs for fans.
It’s scary because it’s almost like these mafia bosses are seen as icons, superheroes. Good models for children.
What makes everything worse?
The barra bravas are spreading.
According to the Global Post, these barra bravas are spreading across South America. Many countries are beginning to adopt barra bravas, including Mexico. A world cup official said that after one of the matches he was reffing/during, the crowds were chanting the same exact things as those in the barra brava culture.
The only way to stop these barra bravas is to let the culture die out and making sure the young stay removed from it by incorporating new/better role models. The biggest issue could be the fact that the barra bravas are too busy hurting these role models for these kids to have established role models to begin with.