BUENOS AIRES An Argentine soccer fan was declared dead after suffering a vicious attack by a group of men during a first division match at the weekend, local media reported on Monday.
TV footage showed Belgrano supporter Emanuel Balbo being set upon by hooligan fans of the same team during Saturday’s derby against bitter rivals Talleres in the northern city of Cordoba.
The 22-year-old was pushed as he tried to get away, falling more than three metres into a concrete stairwell and landing on his head.
Judge Liliana Sanchez told TyC Sports that four men already arrested and notorious “barrabrava” hooligan Oscar Gomez, who is said to have instigated the attack and is being sought by police, faced charges of aggravated homicide and up to 34 years in jail.
Balbo’s father Raul told reporters his elder son had been killed in a hit and run incident by Gomez four years ago.
"Here at Belgrano we are praying that Emanuel Balbo and Diego Frydman recover," the club said in a statement, adding that another fan had been injured in a separate incident.
Barrabrava violence is endemic in the Argentine game with Balbo the 317th fatal victim since 1922, according to statistics published by the NGO Salvemos al Futbol (let’s save football).
A ban on travelling fans at Argentine league matches has been in place since 2013 in a bid to curb the violence. Efforts to lift it at selected matches have failed.
The first derby between the rival teams for 15 years ended 1-1 with Talleres in 10th place, 14 points behind leaders Boca Juniors, and Belgrano one from bottom of the 30-team championship standings.
(Reporting by Rex Gowar, editing by Ed Osmond)