Three versions of a killer

x Ema

The circumstances surrounding Emanuel Alvarez’s death whilst travelling to see Vélez Sársfield take on San Lorenzo in the Nuevo Gasometro are being slowly pieced together. In the last two-and-a-half days there has been, though, no shortage of disagreement about who exactly the killer was – an Huracán barra? A San Lorenzo ‘fan’? Or a lone gunman further off than first thought, who had nothing to do with the match or any teams?

Whilst on their way to the car park of San Lorenzo’s stadium, the Vélez fans’ coach convoy had to pass alongside La Quemita, the headquarters of San Lorenzo’s local rivals Huracán. Initial reports in Olé stated that at this point, some coaches had been ‘ambushed by a group identified with El Globo [Huracán].’ Why Huracán’s barra (or any other group affiliated with the club) would do this prior to a match not involving their team wasn’t clear – Huracán didn’t even play until their match against Boca the following evening – but this at any rate was the early hypothesis.

A few hours later, two conflicting reports came out. Eduardo Capucheti, the Head of Security at Vélez, told reports that, contrary to earlier suppositions, ‘[The bullet] didn’t come from La Quemita. It came from behind there, from some fields. It seems that there was a guy there who was shooting at the floor, and the gun went off unexpectedly.’ In the same article, though, a fan giving her name as Alejandra, who claimed to have been in the coach behind Alvarez’s, said she saw the situation differently;

‘The killer was wearing a San Lorenzo shirt. He got out of a white car and let off a shot… after the shot there were stones thrown, one of them hit me.’

So, three versions of the killer: a San Lorenzo-supporting killer? A member of Huracán’s barra? Or a not-entirely-innocent (he had a gun, after all) man whose aim was off? Two things all reports agree on are that a gun was involved, and that in Capucheti’s words, ‘This wasn’t a fight between barras.’ Even if Huracán’s were involved, Alvarez certainly wasn’t a Vélez hoolie.

The latest on this is Minister of Justice Aníbal Fernández’s statement on Monday. ‘This was a criminal act that had nothing to do with sport,’ he begun, both rightly and wrongly depending on which way you look at it. ‘There was no sort of uproar [beforehand], confrontation or anything like that… what’s the story we can uncover behind all this? The only thing so far is that there’s a murderer who sent a bullet into the chest of a [21-year-old] kid.’

Fernández went on to add that there would be no ‘witch hunt’ in the forces of the police or the sporting security authorities, and refused categorically to compare the shooting with last August’s murder of River barra Gonzalo Acro. ‘Please, they’re totally different cases,’ the minister opined.

The stabbing of the still un-named Boca fan on Sunday wasn’t fatal, of course, but together with the seemingly accidental shooting of ‘Sabrina’ on Friday night prior to the clásico salteño in Argentino B, the total dead after football-related incidents in Argentina now stands at 224. Will these people see sense, at some point?

Photo ‘x Ema’ (‘For Emanuel’) © anitakaos on the HEGS Flickr photo pool


6 thoughts on “Three versions of a killer

  1. Someone please correct me if I am wrong. After a measly two years of living in Buenos Aires and following the futbol phenomenon, including the barrabravas, my impression is this:

    The barrabravas would be more accurately described as “mafias”. Certainly that is the case with many of them, if not all. The young, and at times not so young, men that we all see on tv wearing masks and engaging in acts of intimidation and violence are but the tip of an iceberg, and essentially are foot soldiers(some better trained and regulated than others). The men in the upper echelons of these mafias are connected (loosely if not in some cases-closely) with the clubs themselves and at times with members of the judiciary and government. The objective-maintaining power and control of certain money making schemes. Just as in the more visible mafias of the world, there is often infighting, power plays, loose cannons and the ensueing public conflict. Consolidation of power and control on a very local level cannot be underestimated in Argentine society. All the big players in the drama want their own vanguard of able supporters(armed if necessary) to assist them in wielding influence and maintaining their positions. The upshot of all this, is that the roots and tentacles of this mess are so intertwined with government figures, clubs etc. that trying to put an end to it is damn near impossible. Very sad and disillusioning. Hey, why do you think Macri wants his own police force ?

  2. Very lucid, Johnny. I think the influence of the barras as such can be overstated – non football-related riots and other acts of violence have been held up as examples of the barras being used as ‘foot soldiers’ in recent years (notably the protests at Juan Domingo Perón’s body being moved to a different cemetery a couple of years ago). The fact is, though, that they were more likely not acting in their capacity as football hooligans on the day, but just being violent and happened, by the by, to be people who normally do so in a footballing capacity. In a society like Argentina almost everyone associates themselves with one club or another, but it doesn’t mean they’re always acting (in reality or in their heads) on behalf of that club.

    That being said, as I’ve said numerous times here and on other sites before, the influence of the barras is a poison that’s far, far too pervasive in Argentina and indeed across Latin America.

    And finally, lest any confusion should arise, and for the sake of balance, I’d just like to point out again that in the three major incidents of the weekend just gone, only the stabbing of the Boca fan was a clearly result of barra brava-related violence.

  3. Last night, I was sitting with my father-in-law visiting from BsAs and we watched Futbol De Primera.

    His response to the violence was that the Club presidents and administrators are totally corrupt. Of course, he shares the opinion with everybody else that the problem is complex and there are many actors. But he chose to target the clubs themselves.

    This made me think that the best chance (albeit a tiny chance) of addressing the violence is at the club level. The barras won’t stop raising hell. The police and judiciary system are not able to stop the violence. But, what is the club presidents made some sort of peace with the Bravas? Or took the hard line on club membership and admission to the stadiums? I suppose club leaders would lose their lives or fade under threat of death. It is complex.

    I wonder what Argentine futbol was like in the good ole days? What will be left of the local game for my children?

  4. Chris – the members of each club vote for the president of their club. As such, the ‘hardline’ stance, banning the barras from games or whatever, is not something any president will do, because even though the barras normally form a minority of club members, they can still sway the vote hugely. It’s notable that the one club who have taken a hardline stance, Racing, are the one club who, because of their ownership structure under Blanquiceleste S.A., don’t have to hold presidential elections.

    If you go to La Bombonera, outside the entrance to the Museo Boquense, you’ll see a ‘walk of fame’ with stars set into the pavement. Great ex-players, famous fans and so on. One of them – there’s a photo that I took of it illustrating my Pitch Invasion article this week – is dedicated to La Doce. THAT is the position the barras hold in Argentine football.

    Shortly after I began my first tentative steps into following Argentine football (a few years before this site was born) I came across a quote claiming that one man was ‘one of the most powerful men in Argentine football’. That man was Rafael Di Zeo, the head of La Doce (currently about a year into a 4 1/2 year prison sentence for manslaughter).

    Whether due to cowardice, laziness or – and I find this most likely – co-conspiracy, the boards simply won’t take action against the barras. When Italian football was going through Calciopoli back in the summer of 2006, one Argentine journalist reportedly lamented that ‘you’d never get this in Argentina – because in Argentina the corruption is embedded too deeply for the authorities to get hold of it.’

    And Argentine football in the old days? Following the final of the inaugural World Cup in 1930 (Uruguay 4 – 2 Argentina in Montevideo), there were attacks on Uruguayan businesses and the embassy in Buenos Aires. It’s rarely been sweetness and light…

  5. Gracias por usar la foto, en cuanto termine de escribir un pequeño artículo con detalles del tema, me voy a hacer un espacio para leer todo lo que pusiste.

    Nuevamente, gracias.

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