The atmosphere at the Maracana Stadium turned quite chaotic ahead of the FIFA World Cup qualifier between two South American powerhouses Brazil and Argentina on Wednesday.
With Lionel Messi leading the Argentine side, many visiting fans were at the stadium to cheer for their country. Before the on-field proceedings would kick off, mayhem erupted between the Brazilian police and a section of Argentine fans behind one of the goals. The stand was holding more than 3,000 spectators. The turbulent scenario transpired during the national anthems after fans of both teams suddenly got engaged in a brawl.
While all of these were happening, Messi and other Argentine footballers were waiting for the match to start. Players of both sides came forward and urged their fans to calm down. Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez climbed up on the railings to stop the police from hitting the fans.
Glimpses of the unpleasant event were shared on X by football journalist Fabrizio Romano. “Crazy scenes in the stands at Maracanã between Brazilian police and Argentina fans,” the caption of the post read.
According to a report by AFP, Col. Vagner Ferreira, the highest-ranking police officer in the stadium, put the entire blame on the organisers of the match, citing the lack of a barrier between the fans of both teams in the stands. Irked by the police’s behaviour, the Argentine squad decided to leave the field and went straight into the tunnel. The Brazilian unit stayed at the pitch and waited for 22 minutes until their opponent came out of the locker room.
Messi addressed the topic during the post-match press conference. “There were families of the players there. We were more worried about that than playing the match. We went to the locker room because that was the way to make it all calm. From below, we couldn’t do much, we saw how the police hit people,” the Argentine captain said.
Looking at the on-field development, Argentina secured a narrow victory in the tense South American World Cup qualifier, thanks to a goal by Nicolas Otamendi. With five wins in six games, Messi and Co. are holding the top spot in the table. Meanwhile, Brazil have managed only two victories thus far and are reeling in sixth place.