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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 17:25 GMT
Argentina tackles soccer violence
By Daniel Schweimler
BBC News, Buenos Aires

Fans of Gimnasia in Argentina
Argentine football fans have fought police and rival supporters
The authorities in Argentina are taking drastic measures to stem the increasing violence that has blighted the current football season.

At least six games have been suspended following crowd violence and rival fans have fought police and each other both inside and outside stadiums.

The latest moves come after increasing pressure from politicians and Argentine society in general to take action.

Fans have already been banned from travelling to games away from home.

That move had the support of politicians and the police.

Only supporters registered with their clubs will be able to watch the home games.

It is a drastic measure that will reduce crowd sizes and have financial implications for many clubs that are already struggling.

National obsession

But all agree that something needed to be done.

Almost every weekend games are suspended after fans clash with police or one another.

Gimnasia vs Colo Colo of Chile
Argentina's football culture is important to the whole country
Stadiums are wrecked, toilets smashed and stones and coins thrown at players and officials.

The police have said they will not escort travelling supporters, who often clash on the streets with rival fans, and many simply stay away.

Last weekend the game reached a new low when hardcore fans from the first division club Gimnasia were accused of threatening their own players to get them to lose a game.

A full criminal investigation is underway.

Football is a passion, an obsession, in Argentina, unrivalled by any other and a crisis in the game very soon becomes a crisis in the society.

These latest measures will not solve the problem but most people see them as a positive start.

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