US Enabling Barrabravas?

28 04 2008

 With the weakening dollar being pertinent in the US economic agenda this year, Europe is now a tremendous expense for Americans. 
This is where Latin American countries take advantage of the situation by offering tours and other types of trips throughout the various idyllic landscapes throughout the hemisphere.

Enter football stage right.  

In Buenos Aires, various ticket brokers are taking advantage of the situation by selling tickets anywhere between 
US$ 50-300.   If you were to put this in an Argentine economic perspective and depending on the ticket, this would be a 400-1,500%  increase in resale value.  Various football matches also come with city tours, club VIP passes, shopping sprees, and things of the like. 

Yet for some US fans, this is not enough.  Tired of seeing the generic cheering where fans are told what to do via jumbotron graphics while wearing the same color shirts (be it white, red, of black) and waving towels sponsored by a local toilet paper company all jumped the shark years go. They now try to find something a little more spontaneous and with a greater sense of passion.  For many, this changes their view of sports and generates a greater sense of meaning and belonging as well.     Aside from the sector avalancha (Avalanche sector), which offers an adrenaline rush only equalled by the moment when you realize your life is at risk, there are other options available.   Check out the fans behind the goal… you’ll figure it out why it’s called that.

There are actions that could be good to write a book on, yet this type of attitude is what enables these groups of people. They are  the main reason why the sport is in crisis in that country, where the powers that be admit it or not.  After speaking to individuals involved indirectly with American company bigwigs over there, they shared that they in various instances they served as intermediaries for some bigwigs at one particular American multinational (whose colors would be better identified with either River Plate or Independiente) have paid ridiculous amounts of money to go and sit with Boca Juniors infamous barrabravas-  La Doce (The Twelfth Man).  To them it seemed suicidal, a joke of sorts.  Then the reality set in and this type of capricious attitude was attributable more to ignorance than to logic.    According to what could be found out, these individuals paid up to US$2,000 per person while they visited Buenos Aires to sit with some of the most violent entities in Argentina and had their local contact jump through hoops in the process.  The “middlemen” went to the club themselves and found out that they had to talk to the fans themselves and that was where the number came up.  That type of money to sit with criminals and play “Simon Says” with them is ludicrous.  They will tell them to “sing”, “jump”, or “shut the fuck up”.   During the game they were told that they had to follow what they were being told or risk “getting hurt really bad”  or “get raped”.  That is the way I want to be when I go to a stadium.   Look, I don’t know how I am going to be looked at if I do not have people on the record or mention names or that type of thing.  All I can tell you is that if I have to produce them I could.  The problem is that this type of business is a cash business.  No one in this realm keeps invoices on excel sheets or even pay taxes for that matter.     In all honesty, this type of “tour package”  is not top secret.  As a matter of fact, it is as blatant as the bootleg industry there.  Anyone with the “gall for adventure”-or disregard for their safety- can do it.  All you need is a contact and lots of money- dollars, euros, and pounds preferred-please.   There you will walk in to the stadium with La 12 while they play their instruments, sing their songs, and insult their opponent du jour.     Ah, why that sounds like a “cumbaya” moment if I can say so myself.  They also teach the foreigner about the history of the group.     There are other parties involved in this mess.  Some parties that would be considered quite shocking outside of Argentina. What I would like to see is tourist to not glorify these individuals by giving them amounts of money that allow them to earn a living off of being fans is utterly asinine.  They use their supposed fandom and loyalty to the club in an effort to extort a living from the the club, obtain criminal immunity from the police, and most importantly are “ambassadors” to the country whenever the national team plays around the world.  These individuals have all of their expenses paid by the clubs, and the Argentine FA.  Some of these fans stayed in the most luxurious of hotels in Germany while earning a per diem during the last World Cup, so there is no need to feel too guilty.    As I mentioned before, there are other parties involved.  Hey, leaders of different barrabravas have been invited to speak at conventions in Mexico and Colombia that taught these types of social misfits “how to do it right”.      But this is why our rhetoric seems to trite and such a double-standard around the world.  As subtle as this may be, there are certain insinuations that do arise from what is said and what we do.  The US government to talk about stopping the promotion of terrorism in the world, we promote it in other ways.   Yes, I know that these type of “terrorists” did not fly airplanes into buildings and don’t have billions of dollars backing them.  They do use “religion” as a shield.  As much as people want to deny it, football is the official church of Argentina.   Every weekend, and sometimes on weekdays, they go to their respective “temple of worship”.  They cause chaos and erupt into violence all in the name of their religion- their team.  They are not that far off, are they?  These terrorists have 40 million people held hostage in their own country.  They promulgate their authority through violence at the stadium and on the streets.  They implement their system of beliefs by beating them into people and intimidating them into submission.   Now does that make them any different that the ones we are bombing in Iraq in that aspect?  I know that these people don’t have the ambition to wipe the United States off the face of the earth, but they are wiling to get rid of their fellow compatriots in order to be top dog. Like I said, I could be considered reaching when I make the comparison, but I am not off-base by that much.      In addition to the soccer “package”  they also offer courses and prices for some of these club members to go to demonstrations and stand side-by-side with the now reviled piqueteros (picketeers).  These are the same individuals in theory, just that they were in remission for a couple of generations after Juan Domingo Perón had them as his arsenal whenever the US or the opposition would put up some type of force back in the late 40’s and early 50’s.  The piqueteros cause mayhem, inconvenience, and resort to violence in the Argentine sociopolitical scene.  For many of these individuals, this is their “side job”  as they get paid a salary to do this type of activity as well as their spouses and children.     I know that what I am saying is not going to change the status quo, but this would definitely send a message out to them stating that they are looked at not as passionate fans.  They are just the cowards and criminals hiding behind them.

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