Well that didn’t take long. South African police reported yesterday that they had deported ten Argentine “soccer hooligans” who had arrived in advance of this month’s FIFA World Cup, scheduled to kick off this coming Friday. It was alleged the men were part of the notorious “barras bravas,” Latin American soccer groups renowned for their football-related violence.
Soccer and hooliganism have a long and violent history, especially in regions like Europe and in South America. The “bravas” have a particularly infamous reputation among World Cup organizers. Incidents involving the groups have resulted in fights and hospitalizations during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Apparently the Argentine hooligans aren’t the only unruly fans getting the boot from this year’s Cup – around 3,200 English fans with a history of soccer violence have also had their passports held by authorities to prevent them from heading to South Africa.
Given that hooligans the world over have given soccer a bad name, it’s not surprising to find South Africa is trying to crack down on this type of behavior. Let’s hope this year’s games are celebrated for their remarkable sportsmanship – not the juvenile behavior that has marred the sport for too long.