Sport

Fan Fight Delays World Cup Qualifier

Brazil Argentina Wcup 2026 Soccer

Fights between fans and even players are a common sight when the two South American rivals face off, with the decadeslong rivalry extending from the league level to the international level. The debate of who is the best player in football history, Argentina’s Lionel Messi or Brazil’s Pelé only adds to the rivalry.A massive brawl in the stands of a World Cup Qualifier match between Argentina and Brazil delayed the match’s kickoff for nearly half an hour on Tuesday as police attacked fans with batons in an attempt to calm the situation.Argentine captain Lionel Messi and other players attempted to quell the unrest, including the team’s goalkeeper Emi Martinez who can be seen jumping over the barrier in an apparent attempt to stop a police officer from hitting a fan. Messi eventually led his team off the field while waiting for hostilities to cease.The fight between fans broke out shortly after the two teams’ national anthems had played. One Argentine fan was seen with a bloody face while being removed from the stadium on a stretcher. Others can be seen jumping onto the pitch in an attempt to flee the violence and crowding.After the match, Messi accused the police of brutality. “It was bad because we saw how they were beating people,” the world-famous football star said. “The police, as it already happened in the Libertadores final, were once again repressing the people with nightsticks, there were players who had families over there.”

The Copa Libertadores finals is the premier continental football competition in South America that occurred earlier this month.

That match, between Brazil’s Fluminense and Argentine’s Boca Juniors was marred by several massive fights between fans before the game and officials considered playing the game without fans to avoid further incidents.

Col. Vagner Ferreira, who was the highest-ranking officer in the stadium during the World Cup Qualifier, told Brazilian media that their actions were justified.“Every action demands a reaction. There is a history of confrontation here. At first we spoke to them. Then, we had to use our batons. There was no lethal force involved, no rubber bullets, no tear gas. This was a very technical approach,” Ferreira said.After play resumed, Argentina won the match 1-0. It was Brazil’s third straight loss and their first-ever home loss in a World Cup Qualifier, but that historic moment was overshadowed by the violence that preceded it.“There was family of the players [in that section]. We were more worried about that than playing the match,” Messi said. “We [went back to the locker room] because that was the way to make it all calm. From below, we couldn’t do much, we saw how [the police] hit people.”Argentina players later celebrated with fans near the area where the fight broke out after the match.Watch: Cluttered Brawl Taints Orlando Magic’s Win Over Minnesota Timberwolves4 February 2023, 22:52 GMTPlayers for Brazil, including goalkeeper Dibu Martinezx and captain Marquinhos, also attempted to ease the situation before the start of the match was delayed.”We were worried about the families, women and children, that we were seeing in panic up there in the stands,” Marquinhos said after the match. “Down on the pitch it was hard for us to understand what was going on, it was a very scary situation.”Still, Messi said he was happy that his squad got the win in Rio de Janeiro.

“After that, winning this game like this I think is one of the most important wins that this group has achieved. It is something very nice to be able to win here in Brazil, after how strong they have been at home throughout their history,” Messi said.

Argentina currently leads the CONMEBOL standings, with 15 points through six games played. Brazil has been dealing with significant injuries and is currently sixth in the standings. The top six teams will qualify for the World Cup.

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