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PostPosted: Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:00 pm 
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WC: Concern over Argentina's hooligans in SA ... _hooligans

Argentinian football authorities deny any ties, but the presence in South Africa of known hooligans of the country's clubs has led to questions on who is financing their trips.

"There is no tie to speak of, and we did not pay for any aeroplane tickets for anybody," Argentina spokesman Andres Ventura insisted.

"We hope this is cleared up," he added, while requesting that the courts investigate any allegations.

Close to 30 hooligans supporting various teams travelled to South Africa on Friday in the same plane as Argentina's national team.

"I never had anything to do with them. It would be very stupid to send them in the same flight as the national team," argued Argentina Football Association (AFA) president Julio Grondona, who is also an influential vice president of Fifa.

The AFA argued that it was all a coincidence: Argentina cancelled a planned charter flight to South Africa and travelled on a regular flight instead.

"The national team was going to play in Dubai, and when that was cancelled we had to get tickets on another flight. The fans probably already had their tickets and we invaded that plane," Ventura said.

Many in Argentina are not convinced: there is a major scandal in the South American country over how these violent fans are getting the cash they need for the lengthy trip.

Beyond those 30 or so hooligans who travelled with the team, others travelled over the weekend.

A further 250, who belong to the organisation United Argentine Fans (HUA), led by ruling-party political activist Marcelo Mallo, are expected to arrive in South Africa in the coming days.

Sources close to the country's football clubs told the German Press Agency, dpa, that no less than 1 000 hooligans were to support the national team in South Africa.

According to Argentinian media reports, the group who travelled to South Africa with the national team have ties with team manager Carlos Bilardo and have been Argentina's main supporters since Diego Maradona became coach in late 2008.

"It's a lie that we are financed by the government, or by the AFA. We have a direct deal with Maradona and Bilardo," Boca hooligan Ramon Ortiz was quoted as saying by the Argentinian Sports daily Ole Tuesday.

Maradona and Bilardo have both denied the allegations.

"I have no relationship with any such character. If that guy says I brought him here, I swear I did not bring anyone. If he wants fame, let him go and do some work," Maradona complained on Tuesday in Pretoria.

"Neither Diego nor I nor anyone in the delegation have had contact with the hooligans. Otherwise, I'd say it, I'd have no problem with that. I insist, I don't even know who those people on the plane were," Bilardo said, in comments that Ole published on Monday.

One of the group's leaders, however, is Ariel Pugliese, alias "The Worm", a former hooligan of the club Nueva Chicago, who worked as a bodyguard for Lionel Messi while he stayed in Argentina.

In the past, Pugliese has been subjected to investigations, both in connection with football violence (involving the death of a Tigre fan in 2007) and with politically-motivated action.

The HUA group was set to stay at a Pretoria school, Christian Progress College, where they were to pay just $11 a night per person.

HUA brings together fans of 32 clubs of lower categories and 11 top-division sides. Their political ties were evident when they publicly declared their support for Argentina's former president Nestor Kirchner, the husband of the current president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

"If the state grants the lads a passport it's because they are allowed to travel. The plane and match tickets we pay ourselves, individually or in groups, getting together the funds, each as they can," Mallo said.

There are many reports that say that a portion of these funds is taxpayers' money.

Be that as it may, every cloud has a silver lining: the need to keep a clean slate so as to be able to travel, led Argentinian hooligans to "behave" this season. Even hooligans of Chacarita Juniors, traditionally among the most violent, did not cause trouble even though the team was relegated.

Events go well beyond the realm of sport. Opposition legislators have already said they will hold Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo "politically responsible" for anything that may happen in South Africa involving these fans.

In South Africa, well-known hooligans talked to Argentinian security officials on Monday at the University of Pretoria's High Performance Centre (HPC), where the team is training and staying ahead of the World Cup.

Ventura, however, said the fans were only trying to find two bags they had lost during the flight.

"They looked the same (as those carried by the national team), even if that sounds like a lie and an excuse," Ventura admitted.

If I can't express my opinion, I have no reason to be part of this union."
Co Adriaanse - AZ Coach

We’re not rated on the Continent,” said Toshack. “British managers are not, coaches are not, players are not. It’s all 4-4-2, hit the front man, get on the second ball. It hasn’t changed. It frustrates me at times, it really does.”
- John Toshack (British Wales Coach ).


PostPosted: Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:06 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 23, 2003 9:53 am
Posts: 4111
Location: UK
Must be a slow news day. :roll: :roll:

When they came for the communists, I was silent, because I was not a communist;
When they came for the socialists, I was silent, because I was not a socialist;
When they came for the trade unionists, I did not protest, because I was not a trade unionist;
When they came for the Jews, I did not protest, because I was not a Jew;
When they came for me, there was no one left to protest on my behalf."

Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984)

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