South American powerhouses Brazil and Argentina faced off in a controversial showdown on Tuesday, with the two nations locking horns at the iconic Maracana in a highly-anticipated 2024 FIFA World Cup qualifier.
Both teams entered this clash on the back of a defeat, with La Albiceleste losing 1-0 against Uruguay while the Selecao suffered a 2-1 loss away to Colombia a few days earlier. As a result, this was a must-win tie for both the reigning World Cup champions and the five-time winners.
However, it was Messi and Co. that came away with the three points, with Nicolas Otamendi's 63rd-minute header securing a historic win in Rio de Janeiro. This was the first time in history that Brazil had lost a FIFA World Cup qualifier at home, thus highlighting the importance of this victory for the visitors.
However, as mentioned earlier, this was a controversial game due to the violence that erupted in the stands before the game even began. Crowd unrest broke out before kick-off as Messi and Co. watched in horror as the Argentina fans were charged by Brazil's baton-wielding military police, who were present at the stadium.
Emiliano Martinez was even caught on camera clashing with one of the officials. The Argentine keeper, who appears to take issue with the violent response, attempted to climb into the stands to confront one of the baton-wielding policemen before being pulled back down.
EL DIBU DEFENDIENDO A LOS HINCHAS ARGENTINOS EN MEDIO DE LA REPRESIÓN POLICIAL pic.twitter.com/iEXBISudaW— TyC Sports (@TyCSports) November 22, 2023
After witnessing police beating fans in the Maracana before Brazil vs Argentina last night, Emi Martinez, alongside Messi and co took matters in to his own hands by trying to grab a baton out of a police officer's hand according to the BBC.— Gianni Butticè (@GianniButtice) November 22, 2023
South American football is wild. pic.twitter.com/ydNiWUyjm4
Messi ultimately led his players back into the dressing room to help calm down the matters but several fans were sadly left bloodied and injured. The game ultimately went on, with Argentina winning 1-0, with the players euphorically celebrating with their supporters after the final whistle.
An official statement has not yet been released by the Brazilian FA regarding this matter. The hosts have been accused of failing to segregate the home fans and away supporters despite their well-documented rivalry. Additionally, it will be interesting to see what kind of punishments, if any, are handed out by CONMEBOL following those ugly scenes that marred the region's best fixture.