Turmoil at Maracana: Messi's Accusations and Dramatic Delays Overshadow Argentina' Triumph Over Brazil
In a stunning turn of events at Maracana Stadium, Argentina's clash with Brazil in the World Cup qualifier was marred by chaos, as Lionel Messi accused Brazilian police of brutality, triggering a half-hour delay in the kick-off.
Amidst clashes between Brazilian and Argentinian fans during the national anthems, the situation escalated when police charged at the visiting contingent, wielding nightsticks. The tumult saw Argentina fans resorting to tearing up seats and hurling them at officers, prompting panic among spectators, with some seeking refuge on the pitch.
A haunting image unfolded as one Argentina fan lay bloodied on the pitch, eventually evacuated from the stadium on a stretcher. Displaying remarkable leadership, Messi and the Argentina team intervened, attempting to pacify the escalating tensions before retreating to the dressing room.
"It was bad because we saw how they were beating people ... The police, as it already happened in the Libertadores final, were once again repressing the people with night sticks, there were players who had families over there," Messi said in a pitchside television interview.
"We went to the locker room because it was the best way to calm everything down, it could have ended in tragedy.
"You think about the families, the people who are there, who don't know what's going on and we were more concerned about that than playing a match that, at that point, was of secondary importance."
Even Brazil's captain, Marquinhos, expressed shared concerns, engaging with Messi and the Argentinian players in an effort to restore order. The incident echoed recent violent clashes between fans of Argentina's Boca Juniors and Brazil's Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro, foreshadowing the intensity of the rivalry.
"We were worried about the families, women and children, that we were seeing in panic up there in the stands," Marquinhos told reporters.
"Down on the pitch it was hard for us to understand what was going on, it was a very scary situation."
After a prolonged delay, the Argentina players returned to the pitch, corralled by police, and the match eventually commenced. In a gripping 1-0 victory for Argentina, defender Nicolas Otamendi's 63rd-minute header sealed the triumph, with celebrations unfolding at the same end where earlier turmoil had erupted.
The victory marked Brazil's third consecutive defeat, further compounded by midfielder Joelinton's expulsion 18 minutes from time. Beyond the footballing spectacle, the chaotic events at Maracana prompt reflection on the broader implications of fan clashes, player safety, and the resilience of the beautiful game in the face of unexpected challenges.
Some information gotten from www.reuters.com