Violence in Copa Supamericana just 18 months ahead of Brazil 2014.
Brazil: Known for its carnivals, beaches and Samba-style Football, also for its corruption, violence and lack of order. A country with a crazy love for football, craziness though, often stretching to madness. When Brazil was awarded the 2014 World Cup, the initial feeling was positive, surely there is no better place to stage one of the greatest sporting shows on earth. Brazil’s national team plays and the country comes alive. Businesses close early, roads block up and bars fill as quickly as a Caipirinha cocktail can be poured.
However, behind the visage of passion and fancy football, there are underlining problems within Brazilian football, further highlighted by the Copa Sudamericana on Wednesday. The match between Brazil’s Sao Paulo and Argentinean side Tigre was played to decide the winner of South America’s second most prestigious competition. The atmosphere was heated in Sao Paulo’s Murumbi stadium before kick off, heightened by a 0-0 draw in the first leg at Tigres stadium.
On the pitch, the home team quickly took control of proceedings. They went ahead through a goal from Lucas, in his last game for the club before he moves to Paris St. German. Five minutes later Osvaldo scored with an audacious chip-shot past Tigres’ goal keeper, giving the home team a 2-0 lead going into half time. But at half time the trouble started. A fight broke out between the players, leaving police and match officials having to prevent violent outbreaks. After a few minutes of individual confrontations – in most parts just unfavorable comments to opposition – the players left the pitch for the interval.
At that point the situation looked to have settled down but the events to follow have quite rightly taken the sporting world by shock. Reports suggest that Brazilian police officers made their way into the Tigres dressing room armed with guns and baton sticks. Not to have a quiet talk with the staff but instead to intimidate, frighten and even abuse the players. A gun was pointed at Tigres’ goalkeeper Damian Albil’s whilst the Argentine media claim to have photos of a blood stained dressing room with comments that players were hit with police sticks.
Remarkably, despite the fact Tigres refused to play the second half, Sao Paulo received the trophy and appeared to celebrate like all was normal. The club’s president even stated, ‘They were going to lose by a big score. Our biggest victory is the fact that the Argentines ran away.’ Forgetting completely the Tigres players sat in their dressing room, waiting for three hours before being able to exit the stadium safely. An incredible, ridiculous but above all worrying day for South American football, just eighteen months before Brazil are set to host the 2014 World Cup. A place of passion, partying and positive atmosphere – but not for the Tigres players and this is by far an isolated incident.
Player violence on the pitch is something that can be easily dealt with, with the use of ‘legal’ disciplinary action. Not taking police batons to players at half time but instead by using the two yellow and red weapons available to every referee. However, the fear in this is the behavior of the legal system. A legal system that in eighteen months will be in charge of controlling an event of the highest scale, an event which will include people from all over the world.
There will no doubt be investigations into the incidents in the Murumbi Stadium on Wednesday, but likewise there will no doubt be hidden information from what appears to be a corrupt police force. A team unwilling to play the second half of a final is incredibly worrying, but the words of Sao Paulo’s president suggests the naivety of a great football nation to address the situation they face – ‘Our biggest victory is the fact that the Argentines ran away.’
…What are your thoughts on the situation in Brazil ahead of the 2014 World Cup?
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