Ten years without visitors: more deaths were registered than in the previous decade

There are three dates left before the tournament ends and Lanús fights it with Newell’s and River. It’s Monday but Javier Gerez, the Lefty, travels to La Plata to see Garnet, his passion. The entrance to the Único Stadium gets spicy: there is anxiety, pushing, some bullfights. And the Police do what they usually do in these cases: repress. The situation gets out of control, with hundreds of fans taking refuge where they can from the rain of rubber bullets. In the midst of the chaos, an officer from Buenos Aires shot Gerez in the chest with an Ithaca from half a meter away. The Lanús fan collapses on the asphalt. With the hand that holds his entrance, he covers the hole that the projectile caused in his thorax. When he is transferred to the Gonnet hospital, he is already lifeless.

The murder of Gerez changed the fate of Argentine soccer: since that June 10, 2013, exactly ten years ago, visiting fans were prohibited from entering stadiums. Sergio Berni, then Secretary of National Security, agreed with the leaders of the AFA that from that moment the matches were going to be played only with local fans. Security issues, they argued. Crosses between the fans and problems with the transfer of the bars would be avoided. The plan seemed feasible, but it failed.

During the last ten years, the number of deaths in stadiums has increased compared to previous decades. According to the records of the NGO Save Soccer, in the period that the restriction on visiting fans has passed, 72 people died, 12 more than in the 2003-2013 decade and 16 more than between 1993-2003. It is clear that violence and deaths in stadiums are increasing progressively, and it is also clear that what was proposed as a solution did not work.

Benefits for few. The sociologist Diego Murzi, vice president of Save Soccer, is clear in his analysis: “The ban on visiting fans did not solve the problem of violence, but it did solve to a large extent the problems that the security management actors had in football, such as police officers, officials and leaders. Because? Because by completely eliminating the fans, the bars and the most active fans one out of every two games, their daily tasks were simplified for all those actors. And more so in the case of the Police, which did not reduce the number of troops in the operations, which ends up having more troops to take care of fewer people who a priori are less conflictive. This also explains why the visitors never come back or when they come back they do so very slowly”.

Murzi also explains that the episodes of violence, far from being reduced, were channeled to other places. “The clashes between fans of different teams decreased, clearly because they no longer cross paths in the stadiums, however the attacks on the footballers and the few leaders who accompany the visiting teams increased exponentially. This explains that in reality the violence was redirected towards the only actors inside the stadiums who are identified with the other club”.

No justice. Three Buenos Aires police officers were involved in Gerez’s murder: Roberto Lezcano, Víctor Bacuco and Jorge López. They were only detained for a few hours. All three were acquitted. The cause was filed and the crime has no culprits. A bullet from Buenos Aires that nobody fired. For Sergio Smietniansky, lawyer and member of the Soccer Human Rights Coordinator, the lack of Justice is decisive when thinking about the last decade. “Before talking about ten years without visiting public, I put the accent on ten years without justice, because Gerez was murdered by the Buenos Aires police and after this time there was no oral trial and there is not a single police officer arrested, with which the first thing that What must be highlighted is the issue of repression and impunity. Ten years have not passed since the ban on public visitors has passed, ten years of impunity have passed”.

Finally, Smietniansky focuses on the inmates of the bars as a source of violence: “Many of the acts of violence on the courts occur between the different factions of the bars. Here another component appears, which is the political factor, because the bars no longer fight for issues related to soccer, as could have happened decades ago, the bars are political labor and represent very strong economic interests, thus they are a symbol of the social and political violence that occurs in the context of soccer, which is totally different from saying that it is soccer violence.”

2023-06-10 07:24:50
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