A brawl between rival fans at a Brazilian top-flight league match on Sunday seriously injured at least three supporters and raised concerns over fan safety ahead of Brazil’s hosting of the 2014 World Cup.
Scenes of brutal violence marred the final day of the Brazilian football championship Sunday as rival fans fought a fierce battle in the stands that left at least three people in a serious condition in hospital.
The bloody brawl came during a match between top division clubs Atletico Paranaense and Vasco da Gama, with clashes between fans breaking out early in the first half after Paranaense took a 1-0 lead.
Television images showed groups of fans charging at each other in the stands and exchanging kicks and punches. There was also footage of fans kicking and stamping on seemingly unconscious rival supporters.
As the violence unfolded, some of the players tried to appeal for calm while others were shown looking distraught, with one visibly in tears.
At one point, a helicopter landed on the pitch to airlift an injured fan out of the stadium. Doctors said two other supporters were also hospitalised and were in a serious condition.
The game was being played at the small Arena Joinville stadium, in the southern state of Santa Catarina, as Paranaense's ground is being modernised in order to host matches at next year’s World Cup.
There were no police inside the stadium, which was patrolled only by a private security company.
It was only some time after the violence broke out that riot police entered the stadium, firing rubber bullets and tear gas to bring an end to the fighting. The match resumed after a break of about an hour and ten minutes.
A police official said about 80 private security guards had been 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 Paranaense,” officer Adilson Moreira told reporters.
However, TV footage appeared to show the rival fans had not been separated as the match got underway.
World Cup concerns
The incident is likely to raise concerns over Brazil’s ability to ensure fan safety just six months before it hosts the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Brazil has seen a surge in fan violence this year, with several cases of fighting in stadiums across the country, but Sunday’s mass brawl was among the worst incidents in recent memory.
“I’ve been 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,” said Atletico Paranaense defender Luiz Alberto, who was shown crying as the fighting raged.
“We tried to tell the fans to stop because things would only get worse. We looked at the stands and there were no police. There was nobody there to stop the fighting.”
Nicolas Ransom, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Brazil, noted that the Arena Joinville stadium is not one of those being used for the World Cup and that “entirely different” security arrangements will be in place during the tournament.
Nevertheless Sunday’s fighting was “yet another, lamentable chapter in the history of football-related violence in Brazil”, he said.
Vasco da Gama coach Adilson Batista described the Sunday’s scenes as “deplorable”.
“It’s sad to see images like these just before the World Cup in our country. I’m shocked, this is not sport,” he said.
Atletico Paranaense eventually won the match 5-1, with the defeat condemning Vasco da Gama to relegation.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, Reuters)
Date created : 2013-12-09