Lionel Messi has accused Brazil police of violence against Argentina fans in the stands at the Maracana.
Before the World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina on Tuesday, fighting broke out in the stands between fans. After the Brazilian national anthem was booed by Albiceleste supporters, Brazilian police responded violently.
Lionel Messi and Emiliano Martinez tried to intervene as police clashed with Argentina fans in the stands. The Argentina players decided to leave the pitch and return to the dressing room. The match eventually started after a 30-minute delay at the Maracana.
Brazil suffered its first-ever home World Cup qualifier defeat after defender Nicolas Otamendi scored the only goal of the match. Brazil has lost its last three games and is in sixth place in the South America World Cup qualifying standings. They are eight points behind leaders Argentina.
After the match, Lionel Messi was asked about the violent scenes at the Maracana. He told TyC Sports: “Obviously, how bad. We saw how they were hitting people, as happened in the final of the Libertadores, again repressing people with batons. There were players who had families there. You think about your family, you don’t really know what is happening and you are more focused on that than on playing a game. We saw how they were beating people, something awful could have happened. When everything calmed down we decided to go inside, ask how the relatives were, find out a little about everything. Then we went out.”
Messi calls for an end to the repression of Argentina fans by police
Argentina’s captain also wrote on Instagram: “This team continues to make history… Great victory in the Maracana although it will be marked by the repression of the Argentinians once again in Brazil. This can’t be tolerated, it’s crazy and it needs to end now!!“
The 36-year-old Messi played for 78 minutes against Brazil and was replaced by Angel Di Maria. Inter Miami star revealed that he played with an adductor problem throughout the match.
Messi told TYC: “[It was] an adductor discomfort. It was my last game [in 2023], I have time to get well and start the year with everything. I’m going to prepare to have a great year, have a great preseason and start from scratch.”