In case you were wondering how the Argentine fans would react if River Plate, the most successful franchise in Argentina’s club soccer history, was relegated to a lower-level league, we have our answer.
Hint: it does not go over well.
According to The Independent newspaper, 25 police officers had to be hospitalized after fans rioted following the team’s first relegation in its 110-year history.
From the story:
Police deployed water canons in an attempt to cool things off but with 60,000 disgruntled supporters spilling onto the streets they found themselves overmatched.
Fans demonstrated their displeasure by throwing punches, kicks, iron bars, dustbins, bicycles and anything else close by at the police. Other sections of supporters took out their anger on local businesses and residents as they looted shops and torched cars.
When order was eventually restored it was more by coincidence than design that there had been no fatalities. One police officer was airlifted from the scene with a head wound to join his colleagues in hospital while 40 fans suffered injuries and 50 arrests were made.
A few years back, my wife and I attended a match at River Plate’s stadium in Buenos Aires to watch a World Cup qualifier between Argentina and Paraguay. It was an intense fan experience. The Paraguayan fans were kept sheltered from the Argentines – almost herded into their own sections like cattle, behind tall fences – and police officers kept them from leaving after the match until Argentina’s supporters had left the stadium.
There were no riots that day, but there were moments during the match (a draw between the two squads) when you could feel that somehow it could be possible.
It’s unfortunate the other day that it actually happened.
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