Argentina bans football away supporters after fan death

Lanus supporters in La Plata Lanus supporters clashed with police at the Estudiantes home ground, in La Plata

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The Argentine Football Association (AFA) has banned away fans from attending football matches, after the death of a supporter.

The ban will apply across the country in all divisions of Argentine football.

On Monday a supporter of visiting club Lanus was killed as fans and police clashed in La Plata, near Buenos Aires, during a match against Estudiantes.

More than 70 football supporters have been killed in Argentina since the year 2000.

For the first time in Argentina's history, only home fans will be allowed into the grounds.

Analysis

Argentina has a long record of extreme violence in football. Deadly clashes between rival gangs of radical supporters, known as Barras Bravas (Fierce Blocks), go as far back as the early 20th Century.

The Barras Bravas control the areas surrounding the stadiums, and clashes between rival groups are common before or after the matches.

Club managers have accused the leaders of some gangs of developing their own extortion schemes, demanding money in exchange for their support during the matches.

They have also played a disruptive role at many World Cups and other international football competitions. In 2010, South Africa deported a group of Barras, saying that they were ready to clash with fans of rival teams.

Buenos Aires authorities had already announced a ban on away fans in the province in response to the incident in La Plata.

"The measure will remain in place until the football authorities take action to curb violence in football," said the regional security minister Ricardo Casal.

But the AFA, with the support of the government, decided to extend the restrictions nationwide until new measures are taken to put an end to violence.

'Social problem'

The latest incident broke out during a first-division match on Monday between home team Estudiantes and Lanus.

When a fight erupted outside the stadium, hundreds of Lanus fans left their seats to get involved.

Lanus supporter Javier Gerez, 42, was reportedly struck by a rubber bullet fired by police.

Lanus issued a statement condemning "police brutality". Three officers have been arrested while an investigation is carried out.

Another supporter was injured and is in a serious condition in hospital. The match was abandoned at half-time.

Riot police talks to match officials during the Lanas-Estudiantes game in La Planta (10 June 2013) The Estudiantes-Lanus match was called off at half-time as the violence flared outside

Mr Casal said that from now on, "police officers in Buenos Aires will not use rubber-coated bullets in sports events".

Buenos Aires province is the home of some of the country's main football clubs, such as Boca Juniors, River Plate and Racing.

Mr Casal said thousands of police officers are deployed at every big football match to avoid clashes between fans.

"That will end. They should be policing the neighbourhoods, not stopping fights between football fans," he said.

Boca Juniors are currently facing a high-profile investigation in court for alleged links between the club managers and the powerful La 12 gang.

The manager of Estudiantes, Mauricio Pellegrino, said it was "a social problem".

"Football reflects the violence in society," he said.

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