Violence Halts Brazil League Match, Reignites Fears For Upcoming World Cup
A Brazilian league match was stopped for more than an hour Sunday after fans "started fighting in the stands and a helicopter had to land on the pitch to airlift a seriously injured man," according to Tales Azzoni of the AP. A doctor said that two other fans "were hospitalised in serious condition and one was treated for a minor injury at the stadium in the southern city of Joinville." Supporters from Atletico Paranaense and Vasco da Gama "charged against each other and it took several moments for police to intervene." Groups of fans "punched and kicked each other several times until police arrived and fired rubber bullets to contain the situation." The match restarted after about an hour and 10 minutes. Violence "has been rampant in Brazil this year, raising concerns ahead of the World Cup." Vasco da Gama coach Adilson Batista said, "This is deplorable. It's sad to see images like these just before the World Cup in our country. I'm shocked, this is not sport." TV images "showed players yelling at the fans and telling them to calm down." Atletico Paranaense defender Luiz Alberto, who was shown crying profusely as the altercation was taking place, said, "We tried to tell the fans to stop because things would only get worse. We looked at the stands and there were no cops. There was nobody there to stop the fighting" (INDEPENDENT, 12/9). In London, Leo Spall reported the game was only 15 minutes old when fighting broke out behind one of the goals. The only security on hand "was provided by 80 private security guards." Police and medical staff "arrived later." The game was not being played at a World Cup stadium, but the ugly scenes "have highlighted the problem of football hooliganism in Brazil, where it is often linked to criminal gangs." More than 150 people "have been killed in clashes in and around stadiums over the past 25 years," according to one estimate. However, FIFA insists all appropriate measures "will be in place for next summer’s showpiece event" (LONDON TIMES, 12/9).
FIFA REACTS: BLOOMBERG's Tariq Panja reported FIFA "attempted to make a distinction between the World Cup and the Brazilian championship." In an email statement, FIFA said, "For the 2014 FIFA World Cup a very comprehensive security concept is in place in an integrated operation between private and public security authorities to ensure the safety for fans, players and any other stakeholder involved in the event. The concept has worked very well during the FIFA Confederations Cup and is built on models used at previous FIFA World Cups" (BLOOMBERG, 12/9).
PRIVATE SECURITY: REUTERS' Andrew Downie reported one expert said at least 30 people "have been killed" in incidents in and around Brazil's stadiums this year. Brazil's Sports Ministry "called for swift punishment for hooligans." In a statement it said that "it would consult with public prosecutors and police chiefs over future policing of matches." There were no police inside the Arena Joinville where the game took place because the home side "had opted to use private security guards." President Dilma Rousseff "condemned the troublemakers and called for a special police station to be set up to deal with football-related incidents" (REUTERS, 12/9).
PERSISTING PROBLEM: In London, Fernando Duarte wrote on the Guardian's Talking Sport blog the images "paint a scary picture that will add to the criticism faced by Brazilian football." The year of '13 "has been horrendous" (GUARDIAN, 12/9).
MAKING MATTERS WORSE: In Madrid, Manuel Salinero reported "the serious incident has created commotion within the world of football, which is as concerned with security in stadiums as in the cities that will host World Cup matches, which will be the destinations for thousands of fans from all over the world." The security issue "is added to the various problems that Brazil has suffered in recent months: construction delays, and two deaths in an accident at the Corinthians stadium, among others" (AS, 12/9).