Uruguay tries to curb hooliganism with generosity

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Uruguayan Interior Minister Eduardo Bonomi Tuesday said the government gave away tickets to soccer matches to foster goodwill between rival fans.

“We are betting that a sense of cooperation will prevail,” said Bonomi, in a radio interview.

Days ago, a controversy brewed after it became known that in 2012 the Interior Ministry distributed free tickets to qualification matches between Uruguayan national teams Penarol and Nacional.

The giveaway was designed to “change the logic of confrontation with the logic of cooperation,” Bonomi told local radio station El Espectador.

Bonomi was quick to add that the ministry did not give away tickets to a Libertadores Cup match 15 days ago, when Penarol fans had run-ins with fans of visiting Argentine team Velez.

Bonomi, who has come under fire from some opposition legislators for the unusual tactic to curb soccer hooliganism, said some fans simply prefer confrontation to cooperation.

Violent clashes between rival fans have killed at least five people in the last two decades in Uruguay.