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Pride of Argentina relegated on day of shame: river plate face up to life in division b

Daniel Passarella was asked if he would resign from his role as president of River Plate in the aftermath of the relegation of the most successful club in Argentinian football from the country's top flight.

"I will have to be taken from here body in a body bag," said Passarella, Argentina's World Cup-winning captain in 1978, an unfortunately inappropriate choice of words seeing as in the streets around the Estadio Monumental in downtown Buenos Aires on Sunday night thousands of supporters were rioting in response to seeing their once great team relegated for the first time in their 110-year history.

There were reports that one spectator had died of a heart attack as violence marred the second leg of River Plate's play-off with Belgrano.

Hardcore supporters among the estimated 60,000 crowd brought the game to a premature end when they tried to scale fencing and invade the pitch, pushed back only when police used high-powered hoses.

The referee brought the game to a close on 89 minutes with the score at 1-1, giving Belgrano a 3-1 aggregate win and a place in the Primera Division. The violence spread to the streets outside the stadium, where police used tear gas and rubber bullets to control rioting fans. The clashes left 68 people injured, with 50 arrested.

River Plate have 33 titles to their name, the last coming just three years ago, but now must face up to life in the National B league. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent