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Barça's hardcore fans under suspicion

Fears that violent 'Boixos Nois' element slipping back into the club's fold through the back door

The Catalan regional police fear that the Barcelona supporters' group - encouraged by the board of directors, presided by club president Sandro Rosell - has reopened the doors of Camp Nou to the notorious Boixos Nois, banned from the stadium under the stewardship of former president Joan Laporta.

Barcelona furnished the Catalonia regional police with a list of 900 names of supporters who want to form part of the so-called Grada Jove. The force vetoed 138 of those on the list for being suspected members of the Boixos - or of the violent faction known as the Casuals - and for having police records ranging from minor to serious crimes.

One of the names on the list is José Antonio Romero Ors, alias Jaro. Ors was sentenced for the 1991 murder of Frederic Rouquier, a fan of Barcelona's city rival Espanyol, and two years ago was linked to an attack on one of Laporta's bodyguards. He was subsequently arrested for his involvement in an extortion racket and drug trafficking. Also included on the police's blacklist is Josep Lluis Sureda, a former leader of the Boixos Nois.

Barcelona's directorship insists it will prohibit membership of the Grada Jove to any fan who has been vetoed by the police. However, say club sources, one name is causing acute problems: Carles Vidal, the interlocutor for those supporters that want to form part of the Grada Jove. The police believe that Vidal's involvement could lead to violent fans finding a way back into Camp Nou.

"We will not talk about names because that is the responsibility of the Mossos, not ours," Barcelona vice president Jordi Cardoner told EL PAÍS. The formation of a supporters' group to lend Camp Nou a match-day voice was an electoral promise of Rosell's. "The club supports me," says Vidal, spokesman for the Fanátics supporters group. Vidal says he is against violence but open to the idea that "individual" members of the Boixos who want to join and who "meet all the requirements" should be accepted.

The project to create a cheerleading section of Camp Nou has passed through various phases. The Barcelona board initially proposed reserving 1,400 seats in the Gol Nord section of the ground for supporters to encourage the team. The police recommended these seats be available only to club members. After almost a year of meetings, the Mossos laid out seven stipulations for their support of the project. The primary point of the document, to which EL PAÍS has had access, is that "Vidal and [Luis] Sabaté - coordinator of the group with Vidal - must cease to have any type of representation."

The police also asked for the right to veto any prospective member of the Grada Jove, as well as to fingerprints and photographs of candidates and unlimited access to the area of the ground proposed for the group. Other demands werethat the Grada Jove should have its own security, Barcelona must act with "severity" against troublemakers and vetoed fans should not be able to travel to away matches with tickets issued by the club.

The authorities detected that one of the Barcelona fans who threw flares during the European Supercup in Monaco had traveled to the principality on a ticket supplied by the club to the Fanátics. Although Barcelona insists that the police will have the final word on the project, it is expected that the creation of the Grada Jove will be formally proposed at a club members' assembly this weekend.