Saturday, October 26, 2013

Brazilian soccer violence continues just months ahead of 2014 World Cup

Soccer violence continues to rear its ugly head in Brazil with the World Cup being just eight months away. The latest incident took place over the October 19 weekend when a game in the country’s second division had to be called off in the second half due to fans throwing explosives and rocks onto the pitch. To make matters even more puzzling, the fans were also pelting their own players as they weren’t happy with their performance.

The game took place at Curuzu Stadium in the city of Belem in northern Brazil on October 18. The home club Paysandu allowed a goal in the 75th minute to fall behind 2-0 in the match to visiting team Avai. All hell then broke loose and the referee abandoned the game for safety reasons while police officers tried to restore order. Police detained a number of fans from the home team, but reported that no serious injuries were suffered.

Just a week earlier, fans destroyed close to 100 seats at Arena Castelao, one of the World Cup stadiums, and police officers had to quell violence at two other venues. Two weeks ago, a pair of games were delayed due to overcrowding and fighting in the stands. In the latest incident in Belem, Paysandu supporters started to throw rocks at reserve players from Avai right after the team scored their second goal.

The players then ran onto the field to escape the trouble and to dodge items that were being hurled at them. This was when the referee decided to ask the police for help. The police managed to calm things down slightly and the referee attempted to continue with the game. However, things got out of hand a couple of minutes later when fans behind one of the nets started to throw explosive devices, oranges, and rocks.

Television pictures showed an explosive device being thrown down from the stands and landing just a few feet away from several police officers. Some fans then attempted to break down fences that were separating them from the pitch. Police officers tried to calm things down by using batons and pepper spray against the violent hooligans, but didn’t really have much success. The referee, Grazianni Maciel Rocha, then decided enough was enough and Avai was awarded a 2-0 victory.

Paysandu fans were unhappy since the club is in danger of being relegated from the second division with just eight games remaining in their season. The other recent violent incidents took place because of results of games. At least 30 people were taken into custody at Morumbi Stadium when police used batons on unruly fans and violence spread to nearby streets. Bloodied supporters were shown fighting with police officers on television while parents with small children tried to flee the scene.
In the city of Belo Horizonte, police were forced to use tear gas when fans of Cruzeiro rioted after losing 1-0 loss to Atletico Mineiro. Homemade bombs were also found on some of the supporters.

Other violent incidents have taken place in the World Cup cities of Curitiba and Natal.

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