Sit down and behave

That’s the message being sent to fans of Primera A clubs by the AFA. From the start of this year’s Apertura, new regulations will be introduced to increase safety in the top flight stadia of Capital Federal. As part of a long-delayed initiative, clubs including River Plate, Boca Juniors, Vélez Sársfield and San Lorenzo will have to have 90% of their stadium capacity seated before the new season starts. By the end of the year, the regulator says, the target is 100%. Unsurprisingly, the 10% that escape for now will be the area reserved for the barra bravas.

In early September 2003, days after the last infamous riot at La Bombonera between the barras of Boca Juniors and Chacarita Juniors, the Subsecretary of Security for Football Events told the AFA that, by the end of 2007, all stadia with capacities above 15,000 in Capital Federal would have to be all-seater. The 31st December 2007 deadline came and went, and nothing had been done, but on Wednesday security boss Javier Castrilli declared that enough was enough.

To meet the clubs halfway, a staggered system is being brought in: the target will be 90% of places seated by the start of the Apertura (at present, around 80% of each stadium is seated), with the rest completed by the end of the year. That last bit might take longer, because inevitably the 10% of places that will remain terraced for the duration of the Apertura will belong to the barras, the last bastion against which this whole crusade is very slowly and somewhat cack-handedly being fought.

‘The ideal is 100% seated, because that would be proving that the people act differently depending whether they’re standing or sitting,’ Castrilli explained. ‘It’s not just for comfort, but also for security. And it’s a lie that the people want to stay on their feet: In the third home tier at Boca, at first there was resistance and now everyone sits.’ He may have a point there, as those in England who remember the transition to all-seater stadia following the Taylor Report will remember. It’s also a lie, as Castrilli pointed out, ‘that the reduction in capacity will be an impediment to doing this: In Primera [A], on average and with the exception of key matches, the stadia are only 50% occupied [an average of 18,660 spectators per match].’

One club outside the jurisdiction are Independiente, whose new Doble Visera will be opening, hopefully, during the coming season (probably early in 2009). That ground is set to be the first all-seater in South America.

The message is clear for the clubs of Capital Federal: sit down, and shut up. Whether the threats will be carried through (and, indeed, what these threats are, because the penalties aren’t entirely clear) is another matter, of course.

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6 thoughts on “Sit down and behave

  1. Really good article man. Its a shame that this sort of thing over shadows the matches as there are some really strong players in the Argentinian league. If the money was available the players could stay and form one of the best leagues in the world.

    Keep up the good work man

  2. Won’t this have a serious effect on the atmosphere. At San Lorenzo, that bank of standing supporters on the left as TV cameras look is one of the most spectacular ends in any football stadium, I really can’t imagine them being able to seat that in time, would they have to close it off?
    And I still don’t believe that sitting down/standing up thing, I remember games at Velez, Newell’s and Racing where much of the trouble has come from seated areas.
    I thought there was a downturn of violence AT games this season? Most of the trouble I read about seems to be on the way to matches and outside stadia.

  3. The goal may be to have all-seater stadiums, but is there going to be any active enforcement of not standing during the game? I can’t imagine Independiente’s or Boca’s hinchas sitting simply because they will have a seat behind them.

    If the purpose is to stop the “avalanchas” after a team scores, I can’t really see that being very significant. Maybe they are thinking this measure will work simply because it seems to have toned down the violence in English stadia?

  4. ‘The goal may be to have all-seater stadiums, but is there going to be any active enforcement of not standing during the game?’

    I’d be amazed if that happens, Carlos. Preventing the ‘avalanchas’ is certainly part of the reason (they were referred to in Castrilli’s speech) but… well, we’ll see…

  5. i was in BA in may and from what i can gather from peopl eover there is that they will never allow all seater stadiums as standing is the lifeblood of their game which creates the atmosphere and the best football to watch. I have been told that the hinchadas will rip out seats and will just stand anyway as per usual!!!! Javier castrilli mentions the 3rd tier at boca how apt as that is where i was meant to be sitting but most people were still standing especially behind me and also on the exit steps which makes all seater stadium even more unsafe!!!

    ps- sam where did you get the details/speech from that castrilli made i would like to read it in full.

    many thx


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