Ar­gen­tine foot­ball pas­sion, a crim­i­nal’s poi­soned chal­ice

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Buenos Aires, Ar­gentina - Ar­gen­tines are well known the world over for their pas­sion for foot­ball. What’s not such com­mon knowl­edge is how that very fer­vour is help­ing po­lice catch crim­i­nals.

In Ar­gentina, the coun­try that gave the world foot­balling ge­niuses of the likes of Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, it seems that fugi­tives from jus­tice can re­main hid­den only as long as there isn’t a match on.

Over the last two years, po­lice have laid their hands on 424 crim­i­nals that had gone to watch a foot­ball match.

The Se­cure Stand op­er­a­tion that saw po­lice check the iden­tity of 7.5mn fans in al­most 800 op­er­a­tions across 60 sta­di­ums in Ar­gentina has re­sulted in thieves, rapists and vi­o­lent crim­i­nals find­ing them­selves be­hind bars. On top of that, an­other 1,507 known thugs were de­nied en­try to their game of choice.

That’s what the op­er­a­tion was orig­i­nally set up for: To pre­vent hooli­gans from en­ter­ing sta­di­ums, as Ar­gen­tine foot­ball suf­fered in the grip of growing fan vi­o­lence.

In the Os­car-win­ning 2010 film, The Se­cret in Their Eyes, an Ar­gen­tine foot­ball fan says, “A guy can change any­thing. His face, his home, his fam­ily, his girl­friend, his re­li­gion. But there’s one thing he can’t change: He can’t change his pas­sion.” That pas­sion has caught up with nu­mer­ous crim­i­nals in the coun­try. Still, that is barely a drop in the ocean, given Ar­gentina has 50,000 fugi­tives.

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