How racism fuelled chaos in Argentina, Brazil 2026 World Cup qualifier

An Argentina supporter was arrested on suspicion of racism during the World Cup qualifying match against Brazil at the Maracana on Tuesday.

The woman, named by Globo Esporte as Maria Belem Mateucci, is accused of making a racist comment towards an employee of a company that provides services to the Maracana Stadium. She is one of 17 supporters who were detained in the stadium’s Special Criminal Court (Jecrim) in a contentious affair that turned violent.

Police reacted violently as clashes erupted in the stands before kick-off in the headline clash, starting during the national anthems. The chaos in the stands sparked angry reactions from the players, with Argentina goalkeeper Emi Martinez even attempting to take a police officer’s baton and the teams eventually heading off the field. After the game, Lionel Messi complained about police “repressing people with batons”.

The teams soon came back out of the dressing rooms and the game was allowed to be played, with Argentina going on to win 1-0 and preserve their lead at the top of the South American World Cup qualifying group. Brazil, meanwhile, are eight points behind them in sixth place.

Argentina and Brazil’s qualifying campaigns are now on hold until next September. Before then, the two teams will start preparing for the 2024 Copa America, which takes place in the United States in June and July. The draw for the group stage will be held in December.

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