Fri, Dec 27, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Rise in fan violence casts shadow over World Cup

Brazil and Russia are struggling to control a rising tide of soccer violence as the global spotlight shines on the future hosts of the next two FIFA World Cup tournaments

By Owen Gibson  /  The Guardian

This season alone, clubs in Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Scotland, Turkey, Cyprus, Russia, Poland and Romania have been sanctioned by European soccer’s governing body, while world soccer’s top authority endlessly pledges “zero tolerance” and has begun to back up its words with actions. Yet even here, there is a delicate balance to be struck. Punish the majority of fans with stadium closures for what they see as the actions of a minority and the likelihood is that they will sympathize with the offenders and rail against what they see as unfair treatment from the authorities.

Meanwhile, from Moscow (where Spartak fans went on the rampage) to Minas Gerais (where homemade bombs were recently confiscated from fans), the governments that reveled in being chosen as the next two hosts of FIFA’s flagship competition know they have work to do if their domestic travails with hooliganistic tendencies are not to overshadow their international moment in the sun.

Copyright: Guardian News & Media 2013

Soccer violence – a view from around the world

Brazil: Violence around games on rise

By Fernando Duarte

Brazil ends the year with a new record in the number of deaths related to soccer violence. It was a miracle that nobody died in the festival of thuggery that took place on Dec. 8 at the Atletico Paranaense versus Vasco de Gama match in Joinville, during the last round of the Campeonato Brasileiro (Brazilian Championship), whose shocking images were beamed all around the world. However, that did not prevent Brazilian soccer finishing the season with the saddest of milestones: the 30 deaths in soccer-related incidents this year is the highest number in the history of the game in Brazil.

Yet what is more worrying is that fatal cases have been rising steadily in the past few years. Between 1999 and 2008, there were 42 soccer-related deaths, but last year the number reached 29 for a single year. It is important to understand that the vast majority of those cases occurred outside stadiums and that the experience of watching a soccer match in Brazil has improved significantly in terms of safety in the past 20 years, but that should be no solace.

This is especially so given that similar scenes to the ones that marred the game in Joinville took place in September at Brasilia’s Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha stadium, in a match between Corinthians and Vasco. It is one of the new arenas built for next year’s FIFA World Cup and touted by authorities as a catalyst for a change in fan behavior. However, the incident showed that this transformation is a far more complex issue.

As in Argentina, organist groups of supporters in Brazil are notorious for their penchant for fighting fans of other teams as well as their unscrupulous subsidization by clubs. They will often receive free tickets and financial help in exchange for favors, such as political support for club elections and even intimidation of opponents.

It is a relationship often denounced by the Brazilian media, but which lingers on at every major club in the country, limiting the efficiency of an eventual heavier approach from the authorities.

Yet the recent decision by the Japanese carmaker Nissan to end its sponsorship deal with Vasco because of the savagery in Joinville — adding to the woes of a club relegated to the wilderness of Brazil’s second division — could finally make directors feel the pinch and decide to act. Only chance — or the work of divine forces — has prevented Brazil in the past few decades from experiencing its own version of the Heysel disaster, but it is unwise to tempt fate.

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