A supporter of River Plate in the estadio Monumental, the 25th of November. ALEJANDRO PAGNI / AFP

The argentine football behind a nasty hangover. What was to be his feast day has turned into a fiasco. The return match of the final of the Copa Libertadores (equivalent to champions League in south America) between River Plate and Boca Juniors, the two most popular teams in the country, has been postponed due to the violent incidents that have plagued the pre-game, Saturday, November 24. It will be played on neutral ground, outside of Argentina, the 8th or the 9th of December next, has decided that the Confederation of south american football (Conmebol). As a symbol of all the craziness, and all the excesses that surround the argentine football.

This final opposition for the first time, the enemy brothers of Buenos Aires, the 69 titles in the league at both of them. A rivalry as much sociological as sports. On one side, River Plate, club of the wealthy neighbourhood of Nunez, founded in 1901, winner three times of the Copa Libertadores. On the other, Boca Juniors, located in the popular district of La Boca, founded in 1905, and who has lifted the trophy continental six times.

Between the two, a passion and a deep-rooted hate. And station to the person in a family that would bring a girlfriend or a boyfriend from the rival hated. “This meeting is the opportunity to demonstrate the maturity of our country,” said Mauricio Macri, president of the argentine Republic, but also the grand patron of the club Boca Juniors from 1995 to 2007.

“We would have had to reach the sky, we hit the hell”

After the score of the parity of the away match (2-2), the supporters of the two clubs were waiting for the outcome of this double confrontation with impatience and restlessness. “The first leg was beautiful, the climate around the meeting was surprisingly calm. But the demons of Argentina recalled to us, ” laments Nicolas Cougot, editor-in-chief of the site Window opposite, specializing in particular in the football of south america.

a Sign of the expectation aroused by this encounter, 60 000 supporters of Boca Juniors had topped the mythical place of the Bombonera to attend the last training of their protégés. Supporters of River, them, had not hesitated, in the game go, waiting for hours in the rain before the postponement of the match to the next day due to the torrential rain. Nearly two thousand requests for accreditation had been passed on by the world media and the broadcast time of the meeting, particularly in Europe, foreshadowed the hearings records.

The confrontation will ultimately not take place, the fault of the barras bravas of River Plate. They have attacked because of the players of Boca en route to the estadio Monumental, with stones and tear gas, causing the injury of the team captain, Pablo Pérez, transported to the hospital. Two of his teammates were also wounded by the shattering of ice, and many players have been bothered by the tear gas. “We would have had to reach the sky, we touched the hell. Has the image of what lives in the argentine society at this time “, laments Delio Onnis, the former attacker italo-argentinian and top scorer of the championship of France, which is struggling to express the “shame” felt before these incidents.

The mayor of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, was directly related to the incident with the search of the leader of the barra brava, River organised on the eve of the meeting, and in the course of which 10 million pesos (229 000€) and 300 tickets for the final have been confiscated. “The barra brava is the problem, a mafia that infiltrates the football for over fifty years, said on Sunday Horacio Rodriguez Larreta at a press conference, in remarks reported by the argentine newspaper Clarin. They are responsible for these incidents. It is directly related to the episode of the day before. Three hundred people were prevented from going to the stadium and they were the main protagonists of everything that has happened. “

Fel by the “barras”

“argentinean football is beautiful on the ground, but it is completely rotting out by these barras, who are not ultras – it is important to emphasize – but many members of criminal organizations that manage the trafficking of drugs, weapons, resale of tickets, etc,” explains Nicolas Cougot. “It is the only country in the world where we play the matches without fans opposing. And, despite this, still there is violence “, is full of Delio Onnis, who thinks that these incidents will mark a turning point and that ” things will never be the same as before. The football itself is going to recover, but the people are no longer going to want to go to the stadium. They will not forget “.

This game was meant to be a showcase of argentine football is open to the world, has only confirmed its evils, in a country where the sport king is sometimes a matter of life or death – 93 people have been killed in the last decade. Is it condemned to live perpetually with all this violence ? “The barras have contacts with several leaders of clubs, and up to the highest instances, which means that the housework is not done. And it will probably never be made, because they are the ones who make and unmake leaders, laments Nicolas Cougot. When you have the barras with the self, it is easier to lead the club. Some have tried to oppose it, and that’s not necessarily a very well finished… The argentine football is also in the image of his company, beset by violence, corruption and special interests. “

An analysis shared by Delio Onnis. The former attacker barely to perceive the “small light of hope” that would allow his country out of the doldrums. “At this time, Argentina, this is it. It brings in politics, one gets upset with everyone, his father, his sister, his brother… The situation we face is dire. As for the barras, I am very pessimistic, the household will not be done, ” says the scorer of Reims and AS Monaco. No matter where and when, it will not look the return match. “The hurt is deep,” and the argentine football could take a long time to overcome.

Maxime Goldbaum

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