Kuala Lumpur Post

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Fifa’s Infantino decries violence at Argentina v Brazil World Cup qualifier

LAUSANNE ― Fifa chief Gianni Infantino said yesterday there was no place in football for violence after ugly clashes ahead of Brazil’s World Cup qualifier against Argentina.

A skirmish between rival fans broke out during the national anthems in a stand behind one of the goals at the Maracana stadium in Rio on Tuesday with Brazilian police confronting Argentina fans.

“There’s no place in football for this kind of violence, on or off the pitch,” Infantino said on Instagram.

“Players, fans, teams and officials deserve a secure environment,” Infantino said.

Tempers had flared in the Maracana stands moments before kick-off, with Brazilian police using batons.

Argentina players including Lionel Messi went towards the disturbances in an attempt to plead for calm. Argentina and Aston Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez attempted to jump into the seating area at one stage to confront a baton-wielding Brazilian police officer.

Messi and the other Argentinian players then returned to their dressing room as the clashes continued, with Messi appearing to say: “We’re not playing, we’re leaving.”

“We went to the locker room because it was a way to calm everything down a little,” Messi said. “We went to see how our families and people close to us were doing. And then we came back.”

Argentina went on to defeat Brazil 1-0 thanks to a goal from Nicolas Otamendi and sit top of the South American qualifying standings with 15 points from six games.

Brazil’s third defeat of qualifying, meanwhile, leaves the five-time world champions in sixth place with seven points from six games. ― AFP

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