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A Soccer Match Between Teams From Argentina And Brazil Ended Early Because Police Beat And Threatened The Argentine Team In Their Locker Room At Halftime

This happened a couple of days ago, but we missed it with everything else going on. At Wednesday evening's Copa Sudamericana—Wikipedia calls it "the second most prestigious club competition in South American football"—between Brazil's São Paulo and Argentina's Tigre, some pre-match gamesmanship and a brawl as the teams left the field for halftime led to a very pointed kind of official intervention: Police visited Tigre in its locker room during the break and, allegedly, beat players from Tigre and threatened them with guns. Those players responded by refusing to leave the locker room for the second half. The match was called and awarded to São Paulo, and now Brazilian authorities are investigating the incident.


The timeline (partly from the Guardian's annotated video here): Tigre claimed that its club had been blocked from warming up on the pitch—they eventually got on to the field by jumping over the barriers on the side—but played the first half anyway, falling behind 2-0 as the match progressed. As halftime approached, a small scuffle escalated into something more; where we're used to fights being broken up pretty zealously by officials and teammates, this one sort of dragged on despite a couple police with riot-gear shields hovering around the fringes, and the pushing and tough talk continued even as the teams ran off towards their locker rooms.

Then, Tigre never came back out for the second half. The team later claimed that, during the intermission, 20 police and security guards attacked and beat them. Two allegedly brandished guns—Tigre's coach said one was pointed at a goalkeeper's chest—and the team said that the cadre of police and security beat the team with sticks. Tigre stayed in the locker room for two hours and lodged a complaint with police—presumably, different police. Multiple outlets reported that Argentine media snapped photos of the bloody locker room, though we couldn't find any.

Referees eventually awarded the match to São Paulo. Both team and fans celebrated as if they had won fair and square:

As soon as the referee signalled the end of the match, São Paulo players hugged each other and began celebrating. They were then handed the trophy by officials from Conmebol, the South American Football Confederation.

Thousands of celebrating fans then filled one of São Paulo's main streets, the Avenida Paulista.

"They were going to lose by a big score," the São Paulo President Juvenal Juvencio told the club's website. "Our biggest victory is the fact that the Argentines ran away."


A spokesman for the South American Football Confederation said that the halftime beatings mark "the most serious incident of its kind in 25 years," though Reuters points out that this isn't the country's first incident in which police have interfered with a match: 2002 saw a player knocked unconscious by a police truncheon as he protested a referee's call; in 2005, an Argentine player was arrested for racism during a match, held for 40 hours, then released with no official charge filed; 2006 and 2008 both saw pepper spraying incidents.

So...everyone looking forward to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil?

Copa Sudamericana Abandoned After Armed Police 'Threaten' Players [Reuters]

h/t Jon S.

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