Femi Solaja with reports
The usual vociferous Argentine football fans that have held sway at almost every World Cup matches between the Super Eagles and the South American nation will be absent this summer when the two countries face-off in the final Group D match in Russia next month.
Reason, the Argentine government yesterday confirmed that it will sign an accord with Russia aimed at preventing the country’s known more than 3, 000 hooligans who are expected to travel to this year’s World Cup from doing so.
At the last edition of the tournament in Brazil, several Albeceleste fans in their thousands stormed the Estadio Beira in Porto Alegre, which was a border city between the host country and Argentina and harassed many Nigerian supporters before the 3-2 win against the African representative.
Record of thefts and harassments were prevalent at every venue when the former world champions play at the tournament thus raising a major concern to both the government and the games’ world governing body FIFA.
In view of this development, the new deal, which will be formally signed in the coming days, includes the names of fans banned from Argentine soccer grounds and other known members of the notorious barras bravas, the organised fan groups who have wreaked havoc at local stadiums.
“A list of 400 names of Argentines who will not be able to enter stadiums was handed over and it is estimated that the definitive database will have around 3000 names,” said, the National Director of Security at Argentine football matches, Guillermo Madero.
The information will be shared with airlines and Russian immigration authorities and Argentine officials say the Fan ID, which supporters get when they buy tickets to the games, will act as another barrier.
Argentina will also send six law enforcement officials to Russia to help coordinate with local police and officials from the other 30 competing nations.
The barras are fixtures at most top Argentine clubs and have been responsible for much of the violence that has sullied the domestic game in recent years.
In addition to launching violent attacks on other fans, and sometimes even players, they control the sale of some tickets and are often involved in other illegal activities outside football.
Argentine media have reported that barras from Boca Juniors met with their counterparts from Russian clubs Dynamo Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg in February and officials are taking as many preventive measures as possible.
“We believe that the barras will go to Russia whatever but they are not going to get into the grounds,” said Juan Manuel Lugones, the executive secretary of the agency set up to prevent violence at sports events in Buenos Aires.
Some 44, 882 Argentines have bought tickets for the tournament, according to the latest FIFA figures.
The South Americans will kick off their Group D campaign on June 16 in Moscow against Iceland, before facing Croatia in Nizhni Novgorod and Super Eagles of Nigeria in St Petersburg for the last group match.