Which One Are You?

Delinquents hiding under a team’s jersey who justify themselves for the “love to a club above anything else” or soccer fans who are willing to enjoy the most beautiful sport on earth in peace? Which one are you?

I remember the first time I went to a soccer stadium. My dad took me to a U-17 friendly match between Colombia and Argentina. I think I was not even 10. It was a good match and I had a good deal of fun with my old man, and considering the fact that stadiums were supposed to be places of recreation for families and friends, I would have never imagined that those temples of sports were going to become battlefields.

Around 2002, my sister and I were spending our school break with our family and the two of us decided to go to a soccer match. She was rooting for her team and I was there just to enjoy the sporting event. My parents were completely fine letting two girls on their own go to the game; even my dad drove us to the stadium. We did enjoy an exciting show, but since the fans of the visiting team didn’t like the result, all of a sudden, my sister and I were skipping flying rocks and running away from the ESMAD, all of that under the effect of pepper gas.

I really don’t blame some soccer fans for their reckless behaviour: Most of them have a social background where violence is a daily meal and where unawareness that this is “just a game” is pretty latent. Lack of education and opportunity opened the door for most of them to escape from their frustrations and become part of a collective that has been an issue in stadiums around the world.

Social networking and media instead of helping promoting healthy environments and agreements among fans of opposite teams, have worsen up the violence between them which go from offensive memes to death threats.

The local governments have also a huge responsibility in the spread of this nasty phenomenon. I am under the impression that it is cheaper for them to send thousands of police officers and ESMAD agents to guard the stadiums than to educate people to live the joy of soccer in peace. The media on the other hand, seems more interested in feeding the hatred among fans tan to call them out for truces or at least to motivate them to make stadiums family friendly scenarios again.

On this edition #101, it is also our responsibility to call out for peace in the sporting scenarios, particularly in this historic moment for our nation, and since we have to lead by the example, i tell you that I come from a home where my father is fan of Deportivo Pasto, my mother is fan of Deportivo Pereira, my sister is fan of Independiente Medellin, my brother in law is fan of America de Cali, and I am fan of Atletico Nacional. We enjoy soccer together, we share the victories of our teams and we feel sorry when one of our teams doesn’t do a good job. We can make jokes but never cross the line and disrespect each other.

Give it a shot. Soccer is cooler when we live this passion in peace.

By: Ana María Arias.



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