Saturday, September 20, 2008

Stopping Hooligans In Argentina

Chrissie sends the following link to a story in the Wall Street Journal about a woman who has begun a public campaign to stamp out violence and rudeness in soccer stadiums. Part of her strategy has been to pay for anti-violence TV spots featuring famous players and to organize seminars on playgrounds and in prisons.

Click here to read the article.

Part of the problem is that a large number of fans go to the game NOT to watch the game but to vent their frustrations with life. Not surprisingly, when unemployment goes up in a region, so does violence in local soccer stadiums. When an economy is flush with cash, violence tends to go down. Soccer matches are generally a socially acceptable place to scream obscenities and let off societal steam... The problem is that this anger frequently goes beyond naughty songs and sexual insults and turns into criminal behavior.

What do you think? Can she really stop the crazies?


ChrisC said...

I don't see an advertising campaign stopping the deep socio/economic quandry of soccer violence. I've heard that some of the clubs presidents pay or in other ways support "los barras bravas". Spend the ad money on creating jobs, providing better education etc

SM Sprenger said...

"Not surprisingly, when unemployment goes up in a region, so does violence in local soccer stadiums. When an economy is flush with cash, violence tends to go down."

Sounds plausible and vaguely Marxist, but is there good statistical evidence that supports the claim? The Brits, who are known for rampant hooliganism, have had one of the strongest economies of the world for the past couple of decades. One can no doubt find several poor third-world countries where the phenomenon doesn't exist.

CAmado said...

The English are actually a good example of how better economics have contributed to the waning of violence in soccer stadia. The worse violence in English football took place from the 60s to the 80s.

Improving economics and harsh international sanctions to English football helped the English control and erradicate their violent hooligans. After tragedies such as the Heysel disaster (in which Liverpool fans caused the death of dozens of Juventus fans, death toll was 39)and the Hillsborough disaster (Liverpool death toll was 96), English football was banned from the international stage for years both at the national and club levels.

Because of Hillsborough all English clubs were forced to have all-seater stadiums by the mid-90s thanks to the Taylor Report. English clubs hiked ticket prices and targeted a more affluent clientelle, possible in part due to the improvement of the economy. Stadium security was also enhanced (cameras, more security personel, harsher sanctions against hooligans including bans from the grounds and jail time).

As for Argentina, the problem does have a lot to do with a harsh economic decade, but as chrisc pointed out, this is the most complex of hooliganism problems. Not only do club presidents pay their respective barras bravas for "protection" (Mafia anyone?), many of their own football superstars have to do the same. Some do it voluntarily to support all their buddies, others to avoid kidnappings of relatives and violence against their own persons. The advertising campaign is a good start, but until the economy improves and the barra brava mafia is brought to justice, little will change. Unfortunately this brand of hooliganism, which was pretty exclusive to Argentina and Brazil, has expanded to other countries too.