Argentine football passion, a criminal’s poisoned chalice
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.