• Argentina beat Brazil for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers
  • The match was stopped because of violence in the stands
  • THIS is what Lionel Messi and company did

Argentina, led by the indomitable Lionel Messi snatched a famous 1-0 victory against Brazil, marking Brazil's first-ever home World Cup qualifying defeat. But the night was marred by more than just sporting drama because violence erupted in the stands, sparking a frenzy of controversy and critical points.

South American controversy

The match was set ablaze when Nicolas Otamendi rose like a phoenix to head in the decisive goal at the 63-minute mark. This not only secured Argentina a historic three points but also condemned Brazil to a third straight qualifying defeat which is a first in their storied history.

However, the footballing action took a backseat as chaos ensued with fans clashing violently, delaying the kickoff of this World Cup qualifier. The scenes were distressing, with images capturing crying children and desperate fans trying to escape the bedlam. Unfortunately the rivalry between the two nations is historic. 

The violent pre-match incident, starting shortly after the national anthems, stalled the start for 27 minutes. Messi led his team off the field and into the locker rooms for 22 minutes. At least one fan left the stadium bleeding from his head. Rio police said they had arrested eight people due to the brawl.

The crowd aggression was reflected on the field in the first 20 minutes of the encounter, leading to the referee awarding a succession of fouls against Brazil during that time. The tension eventually eased, allowing Argentina to avoid direct confrontation.

In a display of leadership, Messi spearheaded efforts to restore peace, confronting both the police and the irate Argentina fans. Aston Villa's heroic goalkeeper, Emi Martinez even climbed into the stands, attempting to restrain a police officer from using his baton.

Kickoff was delayed by roughly half an hour after an incident broke out in the stands between opposing fans that only accelerated after the police got involved. Eventually, Messi led his players off the pitch over concerns for family members that were sitting in that part of the stadium.

They came back about 10 minutes later and after a lively discussion with their Brazilian counterparts and the match officials, resumed preparation for the game.

The authorities need to take action

The Brazilian Football Confederation defended the mixed-fan seating arrangement, stating it followed the approved security plans. FIFA President Gianni Infantino weighed in, condemning the violence and calling for the safety and security of all involved in the sport.

Despite the turmoil, Messi's post-match comments highlighted the significance of the win and the team's concern for the fans' safety. In a surprising turn, Argentina's manager, Lionel Scaloni, hinted at uncertainty over his future role, citing the need for reflection after setting the bar high with continuous victories.

Match between Brazil and Argentina valid for the Emininatorias of the 2026 World Cup Rio de Janeiro (RJ), 11/21/2023 - E

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Brazil had gone 64 games without a loss and had a 79% win percentage until yesterday's game, but that number is merely the headlining act for a poor run of form for the team. 

This seismic event leaves Argentina soaring at the top of the World Cup qualifying table, while Brazil, under interim head coach Fernando Diniz finds itself in a slump. As the dust settles on this tumultuous night, one thing is certain, the Maracana clash will be remembered for both its footballing milestones and the stark reminder of the sport's underlying tensions.