Football fans attack club's striker
Published 03/02/2014 | 06:42
Football fans launched an attack on Peruvian striker Paolo Guerrero after invading Corinthians training centre in a protest against the struggling Brazilian team.
Club president Mario Gobbi said the protest turned violent and fans grabbed the striker by his neck. He said other club staff were also attacked during Saturday's confrontation after about 100 fans broke into the training centre in Sao Paulo, demanding to talk to players and coaches. They were not seriously injured.
The training centre will be used by Iran's national team during the World Cup in a few months. Corinthians' stadium, the Itaquerao, will host the tournament's opener between Brazil and Croatia on June 12.
Mr Gobbi said: "They tried to strangle the player who scored the most important goal in team history, we didn't deserve this."
Guerrero scored the winner against Chelsea in the Club World Cup final in 2012.
In a statement posted on their website Corinthians condemned the "act of vandalism" at the training centre and said they tried to postpone yesterday's match against Ponte Preta in the Sao Paulo state championship to "preserve and protect everyone".
They said their team did not want to play but the match would go on because "several commitments" had already been made with television rights holders and the local football federation.
"Despite the threat and despite the lack of ideal conditions, Corinthians will play in respect to the club and its fans," the club said in a statement.
Corinthians lost 2-1 to Ponte Preta, extending their winless streak to three matches and increasing criticism from fans.
"I can't deny that our preparation for this match wasn't what it should have been," Corinthians coach Mano Menezes said. "But we can't use that as an excuse."
Mr Gobbi said the club had contacted police and would help authorities arrest those responsible for the attack. Security cameras at the training centre would be handed over to investigators, he said.
"This is a case for the police to handle," he said. "Our employees don't feel safe any more."
The fans cut through a wire mesh fence to try to reach Corinthians players getting ready to train.
Local reports said their main targets were striker Emerson Sheik and former AC Milan forward Alexandre Pato, who was the team's most expensive signing last year but was not a regular starter. Mr Menezes, who replaced Tite late last year, also was among those criticised.
The fans left the training centre after a brief meeting with Mr Menezes. They stayed inside the club for about two hours, Mr Gobbi said.