We can now imagine what a Braveheart sequel set in Brazil might look like.
A mass fan brawl broke out at a Brazilian soccer game Sunday, delaying the contest between Atletico Paranaense and Vasco da Gama for over an hour and sending at least six fans to the hospital. Police fired rubber bullets at the fighting fans and airlifted the most seriously injured fan out of the stadium before it was all over, according to the Associated Press.
The violence took place inside Arena Joinville in Santa Catarina, starting around 15 minutes after kickoff. It appears that a mix of fan aggression and lax security led to the shameful scenes.
“Police were not in the stands when the fighting began behind one of the goals in the stadium,” the report says. “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 Paranaense,’ officer Adilson Moreira told reporters.”
The referee halted the game after the fighting began, and both teams could only watch as the running battles raged around them.
“We tried to tell the fans to stop because things would only get worse,” Atletico Paranaense defender Luiz Alberto said. “We looked at the stands and there were no cops. There was nobody there to stop the fighting.”
Ironically, the game was played in Joinville instead of Atletico Paranaense’s home city of Curitiba, because its fans had caused trouble in a previous game. As punishment, “home” team Atletico Paranaense had to host the game at least 100 km (62 miles) away, so it chose Joinville with hopes that troublemakers wouldn’t make the 130-km (81 miles) trip.
The in-stadium chaos brings negative attention to Brazilian soccer at a bad time. Brazil will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup next summer, and the latest instance of fan violence comes just days after the draw for next summer’s tournament was held in South America’s largest country.
“I’m playing for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this in person,” Alberto added. “We will have a World Cup in our country and we know these images will be shown everywhere.”
Paranaense had taken an early 1-0 lead when fans started fighting. When play finally resumed, Paranaense cruised to a 5-1 win. The result secured Paranaense’s qualification for next year’s Copa Libertadores (South America’s Champions League) and confirmed Vasco’s relegation from the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A (Brazil’s first division).
See footage of the brawl between Atletico Paranaense and Vasco da Gama fans in the video below.
Have a question for Marcus Kwesi O’Mard? Send it to him via Twitter at @NESNsoccer or @mkomard, his Facebook page or NESN Soccer’s Facebook page or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.