FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the national federations of both teams after crowd trouble delayed Brazil’s 2026 World Cup qualifier against Argentina on Tuesday.
The game at the Maracana was delayed by half an hour after fighting broke out in a section of the crowd during the national anthems, with police officers wading in with batons in a bid to restore order.
Footage shared on social media showed some fans being hit with batons and others ripping out seats to throw them at officers.
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Argentina’s players approached the stand to attempt to calm the situation before captain Lionel Messi led them off the field. When the game finally began after a 30-minute wait, the world champions secured a huge 1-0 win through Nicolas Otamendi’s second-half header.
On Friday, FIFA confirmed that both the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) and the Argentine Football Association (AFA) could face sanctions.
The CBF have been charged with potential breaches of article 17 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, relating to order and security at matches, while the AFA face charges relating to crowd disturbances and the delay of kick-off.
Speaking after the game, Messi hit out at the Brazilian authorities’ response to the unrest, which came just over two weeks after fan clashes marred the Copa Libertadores final between Brazil’s Fluminense and Argentina’s Boca Juniors at the same stadium.
“It was bad because we saw how they were beating people,” Messi said. “The police, as it happened in the Libertadores final, were once again repressing the people with sticks.
“There were players who had families over there. We went to the locker room because it was the best way to calm everything down, it could have ended in tragedy.
“You think about the families, the people who are there, who don’t know what’s going on and we were more concerned about that than playing a match that, at that point, was of secondary importance.”
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