Soccer-No drums, beer or banners - Copa America could be dull
By Rosalba O'Brien and Felipe Iturrieta
SANTIAGO, March 6 (Reuters) - In a bid to keep South America's notorious 'barra brava' hooligans away from soccer stadiums, Chile is implementing strict rules that fans complain will take the fizz out of proceedings at the Copa America in June.
This year's tournament, to be hosted by Chile, is the region's biggest national soccer championship and fans are looking forward to seeing players like Argentina's Lionel Messi and Brazil's Neymar battling it out on the pitch.
Games featuring South American teams are renowned for their colour and noise, creating an atmosphere that can make European matches seem dour by comparison.
But some elements of that atmosphere can undermine security and controls are being tightened, Jose Roa, the head of the Chilean government's 'Safe Stadium Plan', told Reuters.
"Our aim is to create a framework so the football community can enjoy a safe party, and exclude from the stadiums those who have set themselves apart from the football community," he said.
Drums, whose throbbing beat is so often the backdrop to Latin American matches, could block exits and will not be allowed in to Copa games.
Nor will fireworks, flares or banners. The latter can impede views or be used to smuggle in weapons or other banned items, Roa said.
The security crackdown has upset fans, who say it is disproportionate. One local Facebook group with 17,000 likes said: "Drums and banners do not generate violence...we are fans, not criminals!" Continuación...