The dark shadow of the barra bravas and violence forever looms over Argentinian football and Independiente manager Ariel Holan was dealt a harsh reminder of that fact after training on Thursday.
It has come to light that after leaving the club’s training ground on Thursday with his assistant Javier Telechea and a friend, his car was blocked close to the motorway by three other cars and two motorcycles. Around 15 men, reportedly armed with sticks surrounded the vehicle and Pablo ‘Bebote’ Álvarez, the leader of Independiente’s barra brava asked to enter Holan’s car.
Instructing Holan to follow the barras vehicles, Bebote reportedly spoke with Holan for around 15 minutes but was clear in his message: “We support you so now you support us. We want $50,000 to travel to Paraguay.” In reference to Independiente’s Copa Sudamericana quarter final against Nacional in Asunción on Wednesday.
Holan’s refusal is unlikely to see the end of the matter and before leaving the car, Bebote is reported to have said: “The decision is yours. This is settled here or in Asunción.”
Despite Bebote being banned from entering the Estadio Libertadores de América his presence at the club is still felt and while previous president Javier Cantero attempted to stamp out the barra influence, under Hugo Moyano, they have made a resurgence.
Concerned that Holan may resign, the club issued a statement to condemn the incident and while the manager has stated that he is not leaving, the 57-year-old did suggest that if it was to continue his position would be less certain.
After refusing the barras request, threats were said to be made to Holan’s family and it has prompted police involvement and protection to be increased around the coach and the club’s training ground.
It isn’t the first time that Holan has been threatened with the barras claiming that previous managers have supported them but with Moyano running for reelection in the coming weeks, and Bebote and 138 members of the barra banned from entering the stadium or travelling to Paraguay, there is a great deal of uncertainty ahead.
While Álvarez could face charges and possible jail time over this latest episode, an audio from the barra leader claiming that it was Holan who told him to meet him in his car rather than at the training ground further muddies the water.
After making statements to the police it should be added that this claim has been rejected as simply an attempt to discredit Holan but it is an ugly incident for the club and Argentinian football.
Quite simply, more has to be done to eradicate this.