Brazil league soccer match halted by fan violence
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL (BDCi) — A Brazilian league soccer match was stopped by fan violence in the stands, police fired rubber bullets to contain the crowd and an injured man was airlifted by helicopter to a hospital on Sunday.
A doctor says two other fans were hospitalized in serious condition and one was treated for a minor injury at the stadium in the southern city of Joinville.
Fans from Atletico Paranaenese and Vasco da Gama fought before police intervened. Groups of fans punched and kicked each other several times and police fired rubber bullets.
Fan violence has been rampant this year in Brazil, raising concerns ahead of next year’s World Cup.
Atletico Paranaenese is trying to secure a spot in next year’s Copa Libertadores while Vasco da Gama, a four-time Brazilian champion, is trying to avoid relegation. The match restarted after a delay of one hour and ten minutes.
“This is deplorable,” said Vasco da Gama coach Adilston Batista. “It’s sad to see images like these just before the World Cup in our country. I’m shocked. This is not sport.”
Television images showed players yelling at the fans and telling them to calm down. Some players put their hands on their heads as they watched the fight.A few fans tried to leave the stands to find safety, including a young woman. A ball girl was shown crying.
“We tried to tell the fans to stop because things would only get worse. We looked at the stands and there were no cops. There was nobody there to stop the fighting,” said Atletico Paranaenese defender Luiz Alberto, who was shown crying during the altercation. “I’m playing for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this in person. We will have a World Cup in our country and we know these images will be shown everywhere.”
Police were not in the stands when the fighting began behind one of the goals in the stadium. A police official said about 80 private security guards were on hand to make sure the fan groups remained separated.
“It’s a private event, so the security was being provided by a security company hired by Atletico Paranaenese,” officer Adilson Moreira said.
The referee stopped the match with Atletico Paranaenese leading 1-0 about 15 minutes into the game. After the fighting was over, the most seriously injured fan was airlifted by helicopter to a hospital.
“Three fans were in serious condition, but two of them were conscious,” doctor Jose Eduardo Dias told local reporters.