The Brazil vs Argentina World Cup qualifier held at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro was marred by violence, as clashes between fans and police took place, leading Lionel Messi to express concern over the potential tragedy. The unrest started when a fight broke out in the stands during the national anthems. Subsequently, Brazilian authorities confronted a group of Argentina supporters. In an effort to defuse the situation, Messi and Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, alongside other Argentina players, intervened.
Despite the turmoil, Argentina managed to secure a 1-0 victory through Nicolas Otamendi’s header, further solidifying their position as the leading team in the South American 2026 World Cup qualifying standings. After considering the occurrences, Messi shared his worry, remarking, “It was unfortunate as we witnessed the violence inflicted on individuals. The authorities, as in the case of the Libertadores final, were once again using force against the crowd with their batons. We retreated to the changing room as it was the most effective method to restore calmness, as the situation had the potential to result in a tragic outcome.”
Recorded footage displayed confrontations between opposing fans prior to the commencement of the game. Martinez was observed trying to intervene and prevent a police officer from employing his baton amidst the chaotic scenes, reminiscent of the Copa Libertadores final that took place earlier in the month. After the match, Messi utilized Instagram to urge for an cessation of the “oppression” faced by Argentinian fans in Brazil.
Marquinhos, the captain of Brazil, also conveyed his apprehension regarding the security of the supporters, especially women and children, who were overwhelmed with fear in the stadium. He depicted the situation as alarming and incomprehensible from the field. The disruptions caused a 30-minute delay in the start of the match and ultimately led to the expulsion of Brazil’s Joelinton towards the end.