FIFA insist Sao Paulo final violence will not be repeated at World Cup
Fifa have been forced to insist that the dramatic and traumatic scenes of the Copa Sudamericana final in Sao Paulo will not be repeated at the 2014 World Cup.
The second leg of the final, between Brazilian side Sao Paulo and Argentina's Tigre, was abandoned when the visitors refused to come out for the second half after violence on the pitch spilled over into the tunnel and the dressing-rooms at half-time.
Tigre said that they were attacked by Brazilian security staff and that they were fortunate no one was killed.
This is embarrassing for Fifa, given the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup will both be held in Brazil.
FIFA have washed their hands of responsibility for what happened, saying in a statement they were "not involved in this match operation". FIFA then insisted their "comprehensive security concept" would head off any such problems in the major international tournaments.
"For the FIFA Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup there will be a comprehensive security concept for the stadiums in place developed by the local organising committee together with the respective authorities and reviewed by the FIFA security experts."
The use of private stewards and trained and certified security officers should, according to Fifa, prevent a repeat in future of these unpleasant scenes.
"The FIFA Confederations Cup will be the first football competition in Brazil to use mainly private stewards for safety and spectator services as it is already a standard procedure in many countries around the world.
"This is already a legacy, as through this initiative more than 30,000 security officers will be trained and certified to work during the FIFA Confederations Cup and FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
"FIFA has full confidence in the security arrangements developed."
The trouble started during a tempestuous first half. The Copa Sudamericana is the South American equivalent of the Europa League and before half-time there was an incident between Sao Paulo midfielder Lucas Moura and some Tigre players.
This led to more confrontations, but it was the violence in the tunnel and the dressing-room that led to Tigre refusing to come back out onto the pitch. The referees awarded the match, and therefore the championship, to Sao Paulo. This took place at the Morumbi stadium, which will not be used for World Cup games.
Tigre goalkeeper Damian Albi described the scenes at half-time and said that his team-mates' safety would have been at risk had they come back out to play.
"The fight lasted 15 minutes. A lot of security people came to us and attacked us. Suddenly, I realise that I had a gun against my chest," Albi said.
Tigre manager Nestor Gorosito said that the police did nothing to stop the violence.
"During the break, a big guy came out with a gun," he said. "Some policemen started to hit some of my players. We tried to defend ourselves. My players fought with the security people for 15 minutes. Then the police arrived and the incidents continued."
Tigre mayor and former club president Sergio Massa said it brought shame on Brazil. "When we went into the dressing room after the first half, there were 15 security people that were hitting the players. They struck us. It's one of the most shameful pages in Brazilian football. We came to play a game of football, not a war."
There was little contrition and some apparent pride from the hosts over the incident, as those from Sao Paulo lined up to criticise their visitors.
"They were there with their tongues out with fear because we had 67,000 fans in the stands," boasted Sao Paulo president Juvenal Juvencio. "They knew they were going to concede many more goals in the second half, so they decided to leave."
"There were no guns as they said. Tigre is a small team – nobody had heard of them 15 days ago. We will celebrate twice: the Argentinians' runaway was our biggest victory."
Sao Paulo coach Ney Franco also denied that there had even been any violence.
"Let's be honest," he said. "There was no fighting, no guns. Tigre didn't come out for the second half because they pipocaram (chickened out)." (© Independent News Service)