Aston Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez clashed with a Brazilian policeman prior to kick-off during Argentina’s World Cup qualifier at the Maracana.
The Maracana witnessed violence on Tuesday night as a massive brawl broke out between Brazil and Argentina fans just before their FIFA World Cup qualifier. The both sets of fans reportedly clashed after the Brazilians booed Argentina’s national anthem.
Local police had to intervene, but that only made matters worse as the Argentine fans were on the receiving end of brutal treatment. Lionel Messi and his teammates had to rush over to the stands and attempt to intervene, but left the pitch when they weren’t able to stop the brawl between their fans and local police.
The 2022 World Cup winner was also seen having a discussion with the match officials and then leading his team back to the dugout. Meanwhile, Brazil players remained on the field and awaited Messi and Co’s return. The Argentine players returned onto the field shortly and the match began at 6:30 AM IST.
Some Argentine players even tried to intervene directly, and it was captured on camera. A video which has gone viral on social media since then, shows goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez trying to enter the stands, and he also tries to grab a baton from the police, who were reportedly hitting the Argentine fans.
Here is the video:
The entire violent pre-match incident postponed kick-off for 27 minutes, and started just after the national anthems. At least one fan left the stadium bleeding from his head. The local police also said that they had arrested eight people.
The match was also a perfect reflection of the pre-match aggression as the referee awarded a succession of fouls against Brazil in the first 20 minutes. The hosts wasted many chances, with Raphinha missing a free-kick chance in the 38th-minute. Then Cristian Romero saved his team with a goal line clearance six minutes later, getting rid of a crossed shot by Gabriel Martinelli.
Nicolas Otamendi scored for Argentina in the 63rd-minute, jumping above the rest to meet a corner kick. The goal turned out to be decisive as Brazil failed to equalise. It turned out to be Brazil’s first home defeat ever in World Cup qualifying and their third consecutive loss in the round-robin tournament. It was also the first time since 2009 that the five-time World cup winners failed to score in a home fixture.