Sul-Americana final violence: what happened

Lucas honours the shirt (Vipcomm)

Last night, late, I watched the Sul-Americana final second leg. Great first half from São Paulo, 2-0 up going into the break. Lucas, in his last game for the club, with the first and the lightning quick Osvaldo with the second. But, what happened next is nothing short of astonishing and sad.

When the half time whistle blew, the Tigre players approached Lucas, looking for a fight. They felt Lucas had been going down too easily. Actually, they had been giving him a rough ride and he had been elbowed in the face and had a bloody lip (he didn’t get any sympathy from the referee who told him to get off the field and didn’t even award a foul even though he had a clear view of it – another story in itself).

At half time the Tigre players approached him trying to get a reaction, start a fight: stupid, cowardly and ridiculous. The Tigre reserve goalkeeper was running around the field pushing players and getting ready to try out his kung fu kicks I’m sure. Mass brawl clearly on the cards and this was only half time.

It was a shame, a disgrace. How many times have South American Cup finals turned into this? When Internacional beat that Mexican side a few years ago – mass brawl at the end. Santos v Peñaral last year – mass brawl. People think its funny and it makes South American football exciting. I used to think that way. But I’m getting sick and tired of this. What does this say about South American society? Footballers? They are lucky, have a great job and are well paid professionals, role models. They should behave accordingly. This hate has got to end before it gets out of hand, which last night it did (read on).

Thankfully the Libertadores final this year was a Brazil v Argentina affair and there were no fights. The game was tough, hard fought, but fought by sportsmen who complimented each other after the match. Well done Boca and Corinthians for that – let’s use that as an example.

From what I could see last night, Tigre were acting like the sore losers. 2-0 down, their gameplan not working so they resorted to stroppy violence and scuffles at the interval and during the match itself. I don’t blame São Paulo, not from what I saw – they didn’t appear to do much wrong. If Luis Fabiano (another idiot) was there I’m sure it would have been different but he was sitting this one out after getting stupidly sent off in last week’s first leg. Check it out (don’t know why the Tigre player was sent off in that incident – diving perhaps?).

So, São Paulo 2-0 up on aggregate, half time mass brawl narrowly avoided. Tigre went to the dressing room. Then at half time rumours emerged that they were afraid of their security and not coming out for the second half. They didn’t. I was listening to commentary from some uninformed Brazilian guy in English. Not very exciting. I switched over to Fox Sports Argentina. It all started to kick off, at least the story of what happened did.

Their pitch-side reporter interviewed the Tigre head of security. He claimed to have been hit, said that the players were blocked from getting back out onto the pitch, several had been hit by São Paulo club security officials and guns had been drawn by these officials and pointed at one of the players’ chests. Hard to believe.

The players didn’t come back out. The referee waited and waited. Eventually he ended that match and São Paulo were Champions. A hollow victory of sorts but at the end of the day they were much the better team and deserved it.

The Fox Sport reporter was finally allowed into the Tigre change room with his cameraman (this kind of reporting is normal in South America). They interviewed the coach, Nestor Gorosito, who said they didn’t come out for several reasons. Immediately it made their case seem a little weaker… “several reasons”. Some problem they had at the hotel, I think he complained about not being able to train on the Morumbi pitch before the game, people threw stones at their bus, they couldn’t do this and that. He confirmed that a gun had been drawn by the São Paulo security staff and some of his players had been hit, blood had been spilt. Extremely serious allegations.

It seems to me like this did happen. The Tigre captain, emotional and in tears (about losing the final – fair play), was interviewed. Apparently the gun had been pointed at him. He showed a large gash on his elbow. The Argentine media today are saying that he had three stitches in his head. I didn’t see it and didn’t hear him mention it.

I didn’t see blood on the walls but a picture today shows it. It sounds true to me. Who knows what happened down there? Were the Tigre players provoking the security staff? Were they continuing the fight in the tunnel? Either way it is disgraceful. How can club security do a thing like this? Where was the neutral security? Where was Conmebol?

With all the violence in previous finals (from players) and basically nothing being done about it, this kind of thing was inevitable. Conmebol have to do something, stop this. Players that do Kung Fu kicks in matches in front of packed stadiums and cameras should be prosecuted and thrown in jail. If you did that in the street you would.

São Paulo should keep this title. If some members of their security staff behaved inappropriately they should be fired and brought to justice in a court of law.

One of the Tigre players interview after the game was showing the gash on his chest, after being hit by an iron bar. I’m pretty sure it was the shaven headed reserve keeper (or maybe he’s the first choice, number 17). The idiot who was looking for trouble. Don’t claim the moral high ground – you, yourself are a disgrace.

It’s a shame that once again violence overshadows the football. Well done to the São Paulo players. Sort it out Conmebol.

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5 thoughts on “Sul-Americana final violence: what happened

  1. Brian, what seems most likely to have happened is that, after both teams got down to the dressing rooms, the Tigre players tried to invade São Paulo dressing room (there is a passageway in Morumbi stadium connecting both dressing rooms). They were stopped by the club security staff, obviously, and then a fight started. Being security staff, it is obvious that they would have won this fight, and the consequences are the images you saw on TV. Officials from São Paulo said yesterday that the security staff do not carry guns. That is the main point of controversy in my opinion.

    But nothing justifies São Paulo’s decision in not allowing Tigre players to do the pitch reconaissance or the waming up on it. It seems like a retaliation. Too little for a club the size of São Paulo.

    • Thanks Christiano. I think you are right. I have seen that mentioned on several Brazilian sites (the Argentine Fox Sports conveniently didn’t mention that). That would make sense. You could see the behaviour of the Tigre players on the field when they were coming off – they were trying to go down the tunnel on the SP side. I bet you it was that goalkeeper of their leading the charge which is why he got hit on the chest. Its shocking to think that somebody had an unaccounted-for gun down there though – I don’t think the Tigre players would have made this up.

      Regardless, the behaviour of the Tigre players was a disgrace and they sounded like little boys crying to the teacher after a playground fight. Pathetic. They should focus on football not fighting. All of the other stuff should be dealt with by club officials and Conmebol.

  2. Not a good reflection on South American football that. On the positive side, what must be the best thing about it is the atmosphere. It looked electric and I’m sure it was. 80,000 fanatical fans, shouting, singing and cheering on their team. You don’t get better than that and that is what is great about South American football in the big matches.

  3. the allegations from tigre players and management are really serious and need to be investigated vigorously and whoever is at fault needs to be sanctioned… if tigre players are lying then is disgraceful from them not coming out for the second half of a tournament so important and big like copa sudamericana…

    comebol needs to get to the bottom of this and cant afford for things like this happen again.. it hurts the tournament and the tv contracts and sponsors.. i bet tv networks arent too pleased with this.. they pay a lot of money for the rights for this to happen

    imagine if the same happened for libertadores

    from what i read in different reports and comments from people is that tigres were being sore losers.. if that’s the case they need to be banned from competing on this tournament for at least five years..

    • Very serious allegations indeed. Absolutely agree with you there for once Chino. Conmebol need to sort this out.

      I think the allegations are true but Tigres are sore losers and need to look at their own behaviour and the part they played in causing this mess. Trying to invade the SP changing rooms, fighting on the field, etc.

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