FIFA Chief Gianni Infantino unequivocally denounced the disturbing incidents that marred Brazil vs Argentina World Cup qualifier, emphasizing that such acts of violence have no place in the realm of football or within broader society. The clashes erupted during the national anthems, leading to confrontations between Brazilian police and passionate Argentina fans at Rio’s iconic Maracana stadium on Tuesday.
Taking to Instagram, Infantino expressed the urgent need for a secure and safe environment for players, fans, and officials alike. He called upon the relevant authorities to ensure the highest standards of safety at all levels of the sport.
The tensions in the Maracana stands reached a boiling point just before kick-off, prompting Argentina’s players, including the legendary Lionel Messi, to step in and appeal for calm. In a dramatic moment, goalkeeper Emi Martinez attempted to confront a baton-wielding Brazilian police officer, underlining the intensity of the situation.
Messi, displaying concern for the escalating chaos, signaled their decision not to play, leading the team to briefly retreat to the locker room. Shedding light on the decision, Messi explained, “We went to the locker room because it was a way to calm everything down a little. We went to see how our families and people close to us were doing. And then we came back.”
Despite the disruptions, Argentina emerged victorious with a 1-0 win, courtesy of Nicolas Otamendi’s goal. This result propelled them to the top of the South American qualifying standings with 15 points from six games. On the other hand, Brazil’s third defeat in the qualifying rounds leaves the five-time world champions in sixth place with seven points from six games. Infantino reiterated the paramount importance of upholding safety for everyone involved in the beautiful game, underscoring the need for swift and comprehensive measures to prevent a recurrence of such regrettable incidents.
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