Maggie, I wish I’d never seen your face
I’ll get on back home one of these days
Let there be no mistake, oh dear, handsome readers, pegamequemegusta is a stickler for justice. During our childhood under a bush in Mountjoy Square, we would cackle as the so-called victims of our glorious capitalist system were led to the flogging house to make their acquaintance with their intellectual equal, the slop bucket. Oh yes, although we would whine so when mother stripped bark from the spindly branches to get extra snap on her lashes, it set in motion a lifelong thirst for the rod that would make Maggie May blush with barely contained jealousy.
So when pegamequemegusta brought you the tale of known hooligans travelling from Argentina with the complicity of the state, their clubs, AFA delegates and perhaps even members of the management team, we were positively vuvuzueling with impotent self-righteousness. How could the courts and magistrates, the police, all those people in the airport who check your passport over and over again, how could they let these people through? How could the chief security chap claim to be ignorant of the presence of known hooligans on the squad’s flight? How could violent thugs pose as ‘social workers’ in a politically militant government-supporting ‘NGO’, Hinchadas Unidas Argentinas [HUA]? The country could no longer be taken seriously, boomed pegamequemegusta.
Even if there was not much of a danger of violence against other fans (except the English, perhaps), and the different factions of barras could work something out between them, it’d still be an embarrassment. Travelling to a World Cup being so far beyond the reach of any normal Argentine, the relatively tiny number of barras that do go do so – besides the football, obviously – for bragging rights, to show their particular club has the graft and cunning to get them there. Yes, it’s all about looks, and the state looks pathetic, weak and corrupt.
In a fine blog piece in Olé today, proper journalist Walter Vargas writes:
Of course the image Argentina has in the world will always be greater and more complex than whatever happens in a World Cup, but try explaining that to whoever ends up being witness to the barras’ infractions that ‘this is just what these misfits do’. [….] And the really cringeworthy part of things? That Maradona, Bilardo, Grondona and the other lads at the top [of the AFA] claim they don’t know or just don’t answer questions about it. A nation of Pontius Pilates.
Meanwhile, the Families of Victims of Violence in Argentine Football (FAVIFA) expanded their ongoing lawsuit against the AFA and Julio Grondona today, accusing the organisation of facilitating the barras’ journey.
Luckily, despite the numerous failures on the Argentine side, the South African police have stepped in and have been harassing the barras all week. They’ve been doing some of the work the Argentine authorities should have done in the first place. Andrés Pillín [the Menace] Bracamonte, head of Rosario Central’s core hooligan faction, was given permission to leave the country last Friday by magistrate Silvia Lamperti but the Immigration people in Pretoria didn’t give a hoot. Back on the plane, son. Tucumán legislator María del Pilar Prieto had refused permission to Sergio Gustavo Flay Roldán, who is on parole for the attempted murder of a 14 year old, to leave the country but he went anyway. He, too, was sent back home.
One of the most intriguing deportations, however, was that of Pablo Bebote [Babyface] Álvarez, leader of the Independiente barra brava. Hinchadas Unidas Argentinas [Argentine Fans United] look to be by far the biggest group of barras in South Africa and in Álvarez they have now lost their ‘treasurer’. So for the moment it is uncertain whether many of them will even have tickets or money to fund their stay. Losing their leaders bit by bit and finding that, despite all the shenanigans and anecdotes for the grandkids about how they swindled their way there, things are working out about as comfortably as pegamequemegusta’s trip to the bee farm dressed in a pollen suit.
Besides the deportations, the police also paid a visit to the self-proclaimed barra oficial at their hotel in the suburbs of Johannesburg, in a show of force. Fourty-two barras had their details taken and eventually they had to leave as they didn’t have enough money to pay for their stay there. They were warned not to show up at the stadiums in the case that they did not have tickets.
And they appear to be getting a tad desperate. Grondona assured us two Sundays ago that there would be no tickets for any barras. Whether he’s to be believed is another matter. In any case, on Saturday four hooligans went to where the AFA delegates (club officials they’re used to squeezing tightly in Argentina) were munching their golden apples to demand tickets and money. Not happy with the negative response, decibels rose until a swallow fell out of a tree and the police were called.
According to Olé, five showed up trying to get passes that would allow them to pose as volunteers and gain access to all the secret parts of South Africa no-one wants you to see, like Blatter’s candy dungeon lined with the finest Danish pastries, or Messi’s famous play station, which is really just a one-man swing set in bare room.
This is great news. Indeed pegamequemegusta did not expect this turn of events when we were prophesying the death of the last vestiges of Argentine dignity the other day. Justice is being upheld. The lash of the sap on our juvenile behind seems but a moment ago.
Yet now we’ll have leaderless, ticketless thugs hanging around with no money to live for about a month in South Africa. From what pegamequemegusta has seen on the telly so far, certain towns and cities in South Africa bear a great resemblance to the largely low-rise, high density, blocked set-up of Argentina. So we could see a bizarre recurrence of the usual boludoísmo present on Argentine street corners as the barras loaf about continuing their love affair with unproductive non-action (well, we can’t all be bloggers, of course).
Indeed, this has already started to a certain extent: in one of its more successful colour pieces, today’s Olé features a taxi-driver from Santa Fe and a Córdoban couple who are sleeping in a car. They saved up just enough money to make the journey but are still struggling to get by. So one of them, after exchanging pleasantries with some petrol pumpers at a nearby garage, remembered his homeland and grabbed a bucket and a squeegee and began cleaning car windscreens on street corners. There are now three of them on various intersections.:”In the first half hour I made 130 rand – about 18 dollars! At this rate i’ll be sorted!”
But such enterprising behaviour is beyond the mongoloids of the HUA. One un-named social worker threatened: “A lot of shit is gonna start flying round here. What the policía federal have done is bloody insane! They let the lads leave the country and when they get here they get sent back home. It’s a cop-out,” he punned ingeniously, “and they’re not going to get away with it.”
Canchallena are reporting that 100 more HUA barras are travelling today to join up with the 95 that are already in Pretoria. Founder and political mastermind, Marcelo Mallo, will be arriving tomorrow or Thursday and he will have a lot to sort out. If he doesn’t, things could well get nasty. Maybe the lashing came too soon.