Brazil suffered its first-ever home World Cup qualifying defeat on Tuesday night at the Maracanã stadium, as Argentina secured a 1-0 victory in a match marred by violence and chaos. The iconic stadium witnessed a delayed start as fights erupted between fans and police, leading to a half-hour postponement.
The trouble began during the national anthems when clashes broke out between Brazilian and Argentine fans. Brazilian police charged at the visiting supporters, prompting chaos in the stands. Some Argentina fans responded by tearing up seats and throwing them at the officers, causing panic among nearby spectators who rushed onto the pitch to escape the violence.
Lionel Messi, captain of the Argentina team, accused the Brazilian police of brutality, leading to a 30-minute delay as the teams retreated to the dressing room. The situation escalated further when police used force to control Argentina fans, resulting in reported injuries and fans being stretchered off to the hospital.
The match eventually resumed, and Nicolas Otamendi’s towering header in the 63rd minute secured a historic 1-0 win for Argentina. The victory propelled Argentina to the top spot in the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers CONMEBOL, while Brazil suffered their third successive loss under Coach Fernando Diniz.
Aston Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez took a courageous stand during the match intervening to prevent a police officer from using a baton on an Argentina fan. The incident occurred amid violent clashes between police and fans, escalating during the playing of the national anthems.
As locals and Argentinian fans engaged in fights behind one of the goals, Brazilian police responded by charging at the travelling contingent with night sticks drawn. Emiliano Martinez, climbed onto the stand and grabbed the arm of a police officer to prevent the use of force on a fan.
The tense situation unfolded during the lead-up to the highly anticipated World Cup qualifier, resulting in a delayed start to the match. The images of Martinez’s intervention have since circulated widely, highlighting the chaotic scenes and the heightened emotions surrounding one of football’s most intense rivalries.
The post-match scenes were marked by further scuffles, with reports of violent clashes between fans and police. Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni even cast doubt on his position, stating, “It’s complicated to continue.”
The chaotic events raised concerns about fan safety and led to criticism of the heavy-handed approach by Brazilian police. Lionel Messi emphasized the impact on players and families, stating, “At that point the match was secondary.”
“The truth is that this group continues to achieve historic things, once again. Obviously, at the beginning it was bad because we saw how they were beating people.
“You think about the family, the people who are there, who don’t know what’s going on and we are more concerned about that than playing a match. At that point the match was secondary.