Fans vandalize World Cup stadium in Brazil

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SAO PAULO — Another wave of fan violence hit Brazil over the weekend, with seats destroyed at a World Cup stadium in Fortaleza and dozens of supporters detained after clashes in Sao Paulo.

World Cup organizers Monday said that more than 80 seats were destroyed at the Arena Castelao on Sunday by Fortaleza fans upset with the team missing out on promotion to the second division. A day earlier, more than 30 seats were damaged by fans of second-division club Ceara after a draw at the venue. The stadium will play host to six matches in next year’s World Cup.

Police also confronted fan groups inside two other stadiums, including where Brazilian league leader Cruzeiro played Sunday.

No serious injuries were reported in the incidents.

Several teams have been punished by Brazil’s sports tribunal this year because of fan violence, and more penalties are expected after this weekend. Vasco da Gama, Corinthians and second-division club Palmeiras all have lost home-field advantage because of fan confrontations this year. The tribunal has said it will look into the problems this weekend.

Little more than a week ago, the first-division match between Atletico Paranaense and Botafogo in the World Cup host city Curitiba was delayed at halftime because of fan fighting in the stands. That same weekend, a second-division game in the host city of Natal was delayed for nearly an hour as fans jumped onto the field to escape overcrowded stands.

The problem at the Arena Castelao happened after third-division club Fortaleza couldn’t manage more than a 2-2 draw against Sampaio Correa, a result that kept the traditional northeastern club from having a chance to reach the second division. Nearly 60,000 Fortaleza fans packed the stadium.

The goal that sealed Fort­aleza’s elimination came in second-half injury time. Fortaleza was leading the match 2-0 until the 78th minute.

Local World Cup organizers said 82 seats were destroyed Sunday, and another 34 had been damaged Saturday by Ceara’s supporters upset with the team’s 1-1 home draw with Parana, a result that hurt the team’s chances of making it to the first division next year.

Organizers said restrooms, protection fences and the door of a concession stand also were damaged during the weekend matches in Fortaleza. The cost of the damage was estimated at about $25,000. Repair work was expected to be completed this week.

Authorities said in a news conference that they will use the 240 security cameras at the venue to try to identify those responsible for the vandalism.

“Identifying those who did this is more important than assessing the damage and making sure that the clubs pay for it,” said Ferruccio Feitosa, one of the government’s officials in charge of the local World Cup preparations. “We can’t allow this to happen again.”

Officials dismissed local media reports that said police estimated about 3,000 seats were destroyed over the weekend.

Brazil will play one of its group-stage matches at the Arena Castelao, which was the first World Cup stadium to be delivered for next year’s tournament.

At the Morumbi Stadium, police hit fans with batons to keep Sao Paulo supporters from invading the Corinthians fan section. Television images showed bloodied fans throwing punches at officers and some fans with small children trying to flee the chaos.

After the match, supporters from both teams clashed at a major avenue. A bus carrying Sao Paulo fans had nearly all of its windows destroyed and police seized several iron bars and rocks used in the confrontation.

Authorities detained at least 30 people involved in the clash, including several women. The Lance sports daily showed a video of dozens of Sao Paulo supporters lying on the ground face down and with their hands on their heads.

Police, who had to use rubber bullets to control the situation, said the confrontation might have been set up ahead of time on the Internet. Local media said about 200 people were involved in the clash Sunday night.

At the Independencia Stadium in Belo Horizonte, police had to use tear gas to contain Cruzeiro fans during the team’s 1-0 loss to rival Atletico Mineiro. Police found homemade bombs with some of the fans, and television images showed that at least one of the devices was hurtled into the seating section where Atletico Mineiro fans were sitting. No one was reportedly injured.

A few dozen fans were detained before the match as rival groups clashed outside the stadium, according to local media.


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