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Cops not only answer to fighting hooliganism

  • SI..com, Wednesday, December 30, 2009 3:58 PM
That Brazil is hosting the 2014 World Cup has brought particular urgency to addressing crowd problems in Brazilian soccer. Its most exciting league championship in years was marred by two incidents of crowd trouble. One was in the line to buy tickets for Flamengo's crunch game against Gremio, where the police used tear gas, batons and rubber bullets to maintain order. The other came after Coritiba had been relegated to the second division, and some of its fans staged a full-scale riot on the field.

Tim Vickery
points out that both cases were cited in an article written by Silvio Torres, the Brazilian politician most associated with a campaign to clean up soccer. Torres wrote, "They were incidents which demonstrate that Brazil, in the process of organizing the 2014 World Cup, is totally unprepared in terms of stadium safety and the total absence of respect of the rights and comfort of the fans."

Vickery says that while Brazil is looking at how English law enforcement combated hooliganism, there was more to it: "All over the country, fans wanted to strike back -- to differentiate themselves from the thugs, to push for supporter rights and seek justice. They organized themselves around fanzines -- magazines produced by the fans. It was a powerful, nationwide movement, and this, along with stiffer punishments, more intelligent policing and better stadiums, was an important factor in changing the way in which the game in watched."

 

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