FIFA moves to distance Brazil football violence from World Cup security plans
AS disturbing images of fans hitting each other were shown across Brazil, soccer's governing body was forced to downplay the risk of violence inside stadiums during the World Cup.
FIFA condemned the mayhem in the southern city of Joinville, where fan fighting halted a decisive Brazilian league match for more than an hour on Sunday. Four people were hospitalised, including one person who was airlifted from the field.
"This is very sad for Brazilian football," FIFA said
"FIFA and the local organising committee condemn any form of violence and such incidents should not happen in any football stadium," it added in a statement yesterday.
The violence came only two days after FIFA held the draw for the 2014 World Cup with an extravagant ceremony in a resort in northeastern Brazil.
Hundreds of fans from Atletico Paranaense and Vasco da Gama charged each other in Joinville, throwing kicks and punches while armed with sticks and metal bars. The fighting forced the referee to stop the match about 17 minutes into the first half.
Security was handled by private guards instead of police, similar to what is planned for the World Cup. The fighting stopped only after police arrived, firing rubber bullets.
FIFA said it could not comment on what happened in Joinville because it was not involved in the match, but noted it is confident with its World Cup security plans.
Several other cases of fan violence have occurred in recent months. "We need to do something about this or it will never stop," Atletico Paranaense defender Luiz Alberto said.
"This is a World Cup country. Things need to change."