Fox Sports last night released new camera footage of the half time “pepper-spray” attack on River Plate during last Thursday’s abandoned Copa Libertadores last 16 clash. Not only does this put to bed many of the wild conspiracy theories that have been doing the rounds on social media but appears to confirm the involvement of one of Boca Juniors’ barra brava factions.
Putting aside the highly implausible theories that River Plate orchestrated the attack themselves to ensure the walkover, or the current government planned this to discredit Presidential hopeful and former Boca president, Mauricio Macri, the video seems to capture what most of those impartially watching had suspected. Although the confusing police report threw some doubt over this, what can be seen is a member of the Boca crowd spraying some liquid into the tunnel through the hole that has just been created by an accomplice.
The man seen spraying the mixture, in the yellow jacket and hat, has been identified as Adrián Napolitano, or ‘El Panadero’, a known member of Boca Juniors’ barra brava. After spraying the mixture, which has now been identified as a ‘mostacero’, a combination of chillies and cayenne pepper that has fermented in acid, Napolitano quickly retreats back into the stands along with as many as ten other accomplices. The authorities are now working on identifying all of these other men but they have already confirmed Napolitano as a member of the ‘Lomas’ faction of the barra brava.
This faction of the barra brava are led by Marcelo Aravena and are at odds with the larger barra brava group ‘La Doce’ led by Mauro Martin and Rafa Di Zeo. Interestingly, well-known Argentine journalist, Gustavo Grabia, who writes extensively on this subject, suggested that it was common knowledge that something was expected during the Copa Libertadores second leg after factions of the barra brava had been frozen out of the ticketing process. If true, and a faction of the barra were not cut in on the ticketing for such a game, it could provide some explanation as to why the attack occurred but importantly, could this not have been foreseen and therefore better policed.
Napolitano obviously has links to the club that go back for years after pictures have also emerged of him travelling with the team to Copa Libertadores matches as far as 2003.
Now Boca have the difficult task of not only identifying these people but also working with the police to bring them to justice.