Friday, October 14, 2011

Barras Bravas

Alongside the popularity and passion of Peruvian soccer, the sport draws fanatics. As mentioned in previous posts, the fans at the games and around the city during games are insane! Unfortunately in Peru, this insanity can turn dangerous and violent very quickly.

Many of the Peruvian club teams have gangs of fans associated with the teams. These gangs are calles barras bravas. The gangs will travel to games with the teams and especially when their team is playing a rival team, the gangs often get out of hand at these games. These gangs rose up around the 70s and are a very large part of the soccer culture in Lima today.

Fights are certain to break out within and outside of the stadium between opposing gangs. The public knows and is cautious to avoid areas where these gangs might be, although many times this includes major streets in Lima near the stadiums. The gangs are known for throwing large rocks, fighting, breaking things, vandalism, throwing trash/paint/etc. on opposing fans. Sadly, the gangs have turned more violent and some have even began using weapons during altercations in recent times. This has resulted in a number of deaths as well. For example, last year members of a barra brava pushed a local woman from a moving bus while driving through Lima after a soccer game.  This past month, a university student was pushed from a balcony in the stadium at a soccer game by members of the opposing team's barra brava after these delinquents broke into the box seat that the student was in. Both cases resulted in death.

This type of violence is absolutely unacceptable, and from my perspective, it seems no one in Lima wants to take responsibility for what is happening. With no one taking responsibility, no changes are being made. The clubs, the stadium, the city, the police, the State, the players and other fans themselves must ban together to prevent this from taking place any longer. Someone needs to take harsh action, because this must stop!

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