Argentine Soccer Sinks to New Low After Rash of Violence

The wave of insecurity in Argentina is reaching an alarming level. Much like any other aspect of society in that country, soccer is directly or indirectly involved. When you read soccer news from Argentina, it sounds more like a daily police blotter or sensationalistic articles about rumbles, shootouts, gunfights and death.

Violence is ubiquitous throughout the country and the culture of the barrabrava using their club colors as a shield is rife.

River Plate midfielder Jonathan Fabbro looked forward to Saturday when his family members were getting together to celebrate his mother’s birthday. Obviously, it was a moment when the family was looking forward to being together at Jonathan’s mother’s home in Villa, but life has a way of turning around in drastic ways.

Upon arriving at his house around midnight, Fabbro’s car was surrounded by six masked individuals. He was accompanied in his car by his four-year-old son, his three–year-old niece and his girlfriend — Larissa Riquelme (yeah, that one).

On Tuesday, Fabbro addressed the media because he knew it was his solace. It was his way of looking to get some type of normalcy in his life once again. He talked about the longest 40 minutes of his life where he saw his son with Down Syndrome was hit in the face by these thugs and his niece was held at knife point. Fabbro’s son suffered injuries to his mouth and nose after taking repeated blows from the criminals. While that went on, Jonathan was hit in the back of the head as well.

“What we see happen on television everyday here happened to me and my family,” said Fabbro. What was worse was that this did not seem like a random incident as they recognized him, his brother and agent Darío, and Larissa Riquelme.

After pretty much anything and everything of value was stolen, and leaving everyone at the party tied up, the thieves said to Fabbro as they headed back to their car, “Thank goodness you followed through on every detail. If not, it would have been a massacre.”

What Fabbro detailed in his interview with TyC Sports and in his press conference is chilling to say the least. Still that is the reality of Argentine society. The violence is nearly pandemic in that country. There is just no other way to put it.

Independiente, one of the biggest clubs in Argentina, underwent a similar situation in the past few days as the club finds itself in an institutional crisis of unprecedented levels since the arrival of club president Javier Cantero.

That, as well as many other glorious moments in that club’s history, seem quite distant now. Independiente, a club that won seven Copa Libertadores titles and are amongst one of the great squads of South American football, unfortunately find themselves mired in the Nacional B (Argentine second division) and are fighting to stay alive in the race to be promoted. The reality of Argentine football has seeped into the foundation of the club as the barrabravas tighten their grip either by hook or crook. Some of the more recent events seem to have inspired Mario Puzo to write The Godfather.

Last week, groundskeepers and several employees at Club Atlético Independiente were in shock (and a great deal of disgust) when they found two dogs hung to a tree. Just 24 hours later, their Wilde complex suffered another attack as three barbecue areas, designated specifically for club members, were burned down.

These two incidents, in addition to the 1-0 loss to Huracán, were the explosive combinations that led to a face off between fans and players. For Independiente, this was their third consecutive loss with only two points earned out of a possible 15 in their last five matches.

“I understand the criticisms, I don’t have a problem with that,” said forward Facundo Parra. “What I can’t accept is that I have to wait two hours after a match to leave because fans want to lynch me.”

Independiente President Javier Cantero is also facing battles on other fronts including an accusation coming directly from FIFA of player transfer irregularities as well as lack of payment on Leonel Núñez’s contract. Both of these offenses could have some major consequences as FIFA are set to fine the club as well as maybe even ask for a points deduction.

Meanwhile for southern Buenos Aires side Quilmes, things reached another “crescendo” when opposing groups of the club faced off prior their match on Monday against All Boys. Current club president Aníbal Fernández was on radio and talked about this situation and mentioned that these types of altercations that are due to “matters outside the stadium.”

According to many in the Argentine press, there was a dispute between the two Quilmes supporter groups. What makes his comments so resonating is that Fernández is a member of the Argentine senate as well as the Minister of Justice under Cristina Kirchner.

These are glaring examples of Argentina football nowadays. Argentina’s top flight, even up until a decade ago, was still one of the sexier leagues around and had the focus of many around the world. Now it has not only hit rock bottom, it is now digging its own grave, which is akin to what’s currently happening in Argentine society.

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