Brawl during Brazil vs Argentina game at Maracana Stadium. Lionel Messi led Argentina off the field because of a brawl between rival fans in Brazil, delaying the start of their South American World Cup qualifier by 27 minutes. Argentine goalkeeper Dibu Martinez even raced to one of the rails in front of the visiting fans to urge police to stop the violence, while police used batons to break up the fights in the crowd.
“This was a very technical approach,” Colonel Vagner Ferreira, the highest-ranked police officer in the stadium, told TV channel SporTV. He blamed the organizers for the lack of a barrier between home and visiting fans.
Messi’s squad returned from the locker room after it was deemed to be safe and went on to win a tense match 1-0, staying on the pitch to celebrate with their fans long after the final whistle. Brazil fans chanted against him when he returned to the pitch, while Brazil players remained on the pitch and warmed up while waiting for the Argentina team to return.
Argentina leads South American World Cup qualifying with 15 points from six games, while Brazil is in sixth position. This heated rivalry is not only at the club level but also revolves around the debate over who is the best footballer in history: Pelé, Lionel Messi or Diego Maradona. Brazil and Argentina are two of the most fierce opponents in World Cup qualifying and Copa America, but they have not faced off in World Cups for many years.
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