Yesterday pegamequemegusta was rejoicing in the unfettered mischief of the Chacarita fans, while at the same time railing against the stupidity and corruption of the justice system and, to a lesser extent, Boca’s own hooligans (what else are they going to do?). Despite record levels of interest in the fledgling page yesterday, such a glaring contradiction – even if it was noticed – was not commented upon. So it falls to pegamequemegusta itself to retract the silly headline – if not correct it. Elder statesman Verón’s comments on the matter today were quite interesting; while the thought that all these different groups of hooligans will have to share territory in South Africa is enough to bring tears to even the most battle-worn Polakwanean policeman.
Chacarita-Estudiantes, besides being a clash between the probable champions and an already relegated team, was also notable for the fact that both teams’ stadiums are currently being renovated/rebuilt. Chacarita have been playing all their home games in Argentinos’ ground. However, there were serious disturbances after their last ‘home’ game against fellow relegation fodder, Atlético de Tucumán, and with the probable champions coming to town it was decided it would be best for all concerned if this game were played in Vélez. Such common sense was the cause of outrage in the offices of Independiente and Argentinos Juniors themselves, who reckoned this could constitute some kind of advantage to their rivals, or at least be more comfortable than the rickety Diego Armando Maradona. After all, apart from their stadium’s name coming from football’s greatest oddball, Argentinos Juniors were originally named Mártires de Chicago after the eight anarchists hanged in the Haymarket Riots of 1806. Common sense never had a chance. Independiente and Argentinos took their noble cause to the sages down at the AFA, who decreed that the game should go ahead after all in La Paternal, Argentinos Junior’s ground. As Diego Morini says in an excellent article in La Nación, “Yeah, exactly, they weren’t even capable of kicking Chacarita out of a ground they don’t even own…”
Verón, who pegamequemegusta has come to love far more off the pitch than on it, revealed today that one did not have to have access to a the internet and a taste for useless trivia to know that there was trouble in store on Sunday:
“We should never have been playing there in the first place. The police had warned that there was going to be trouble. People stick their noses in where they’re not needed [….] We were playing in an atmosphere that was ready to explode. Presidents from other clubs butt in to change the decision of a body that had already said there’d be incidents. Our families go to the matches, too, we have to think about that, too,” reported Olé.
Whatever about the last part, pegamequemegusta was stung by the following: “From the start you could see things were rough. We ensured the Estudiantes fans were kept well apart. Luckily things didn’t get any worse. But this is all about which group thinks it’s toughest. The Estudiantes boys didn’t have a nice time today. Until someone dies we won’t see the end of this shit.”
Pegamequemegusta stands by the assertion that the stuff with the hose was hilarious but must admit that the whole affair is a depressing farce. Indeed, the only bone to pick with Verón’s comments is that plenty of people have already died. The lobbying by Independiente and Argentinos was downright disgraceful – they insisted that a match be played in unsafe conditions purely for the slight chance that Estudiantes (playing against a team that had already been relegated, remember!) might slip up. Even worse, however, is the AFA for granting their feeble-minded request. As Verón says, it’s not a question of what exactly happened on Sunday; it’s about what’s right, how things should be done and how even when all the proper procedures are in place common sense can still be overturned.
One even wonders whether the barra brava weren’t trying to get the game suspended on purpose. Pegamequemegusta would never contemplate such a dastardly contrivance as paying the hooligans of another team to have a match suspended, thus leaving the team with no free time with an extra match to play. No such thought would never cross our royal mind.
Old Juan Sebastián was moved to a bout of philosophy this evening, however, and began to consider his future. “I’d love to be on the other side of things, to seat down and discuss things, to be in charge of a club, to have the power to make these decisions. We can certainly do better than this.” You certainly can. The handsome among you, the loyal pegamequemegusta followers will no doubt recall that this has been a heartfelt wish for some time (not least as it would remove him from Argentina’s midfield, ojó). Unlike becoming managers, if ex players, really successful, respected people, people who aren’t bloody pawns or loopers, people like Passarella and Verón can get power at large clubs like River and Estudiantes, they really can use democracy to effect change. Unlike Riquelme, who is usually right but is far too morose and obstinate for his own good, these guys have the stature to stand up to anybody and would not let themselves be led the sorry dance Román has the last few days. Pegamequemegusta would like to see this, not more farcical scenes in the stands.
Sorry, Seba. Pegáme, que me gusta, che.