By Samindra Kunti
May 11 – The Argentine government will sign an agreement Russia to prevent more than 3,000 Argentine hooligans from entering Russia and the host venues this summer during the World Cup.
Argentina kick off their World Cup campaign against debutants Iceland on June 16 in the Russian capital and the South Americans will have significant backing from their fans. Some 44,000 Argentineans have snapped up tickets for the World Cup so far. At the last World Cup in Brazil, they provided the tournament with great colour as Argentina progressed to the final to eventually lose to 1-0 to Germany.
But Argentine authorities are worried that not all of their fans travelling to Russia are travelling just for football. The government has drawn up a list of names of banned fans, most belonging to the infamous Barras Bravas, organised fans groups. They have a reputation for violence and have cast a shadow over the Argentine game for many years.
“A list of 400 names of Argentines who will not be able to enter stadiums was handed over and it is estimated that the definitive database we send will have around 3,000 names,” said Guillermo Madero, the national director of security at Argentine football matches.
The list will be shared with airline companies and the Russian immigration authorities. Fans need a fan ID to enter Russia and attend the matches, which will act as an additional hurdle.
Argentina will also send six law enforcement officials to Russia to help coordinate with local police and officials from the other 30 competing nations.
The organised fan groups have tentacles throughout the game, often controlling ticketing, and are in many cases involved in illegal criminal activity outside football.
Barras from Buenos Aires giants Boca Juniors met with their counterparts from Russian clubs Dynamo Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg in February, according to Argentine media.
“We believe that the barras will go to Russia whatever but they are not going to get into the grounds,” said Juan Manuel Lugones, the executive secretary of the agency set up to prevent violence at sports events in Buenos Aires.
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