Sunday, March 30, 2008

The trouble with Arsenal

Two years ago, Amy and I went and saw Arsenal (de Sarandí) play River Plate, and because the Rolling Stones were playing River Plate's stadium, the match was held at El Fortín. It was a little intimidating, especially the River ultras in the north end of the stadium. This year, it was more than that:

BUENOS AIRES, March 30 (Reuters) - Dozens of River Plate fans fought among themselves in a vicious battle on the terraces before their team's match against Arsenal in the Argentine championship on Sunday.

Television pictures showed the supporters lashing out at each other, some using ripped up plastic seats, at the stadium of Velez Sarsfield, where the game was played.

A hospital spokesman said seven people were injured in the brawl, including a policeman. One picture showed a supporter sitting on the terraces, covered in blood.

Argentine football suffers from chronic supporter violence.

The match between Racing Club and San Lorenzo last week was abandoned in the second half when home fans hurled missiles on to the pitch after their team had three players sent off and a goal disallowed.

Two weeks ago the San Lorenzo-Velez Sarsfield game was called off minutes before the kick-off when Velez fans rioted over the death of a supporter on the way to the match.

Media said Sunday's riot involved two different River supporters groups -- the Borrachos del Tablon against the Banda del Oeste.

River Plate were last year given a five-match home ban after fans fought with each other at a social club adjoining the club's usual home venue, the Monumental stadium.

River were playing at Velez on Sunday because their stadium was being used for another event.

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