The Real Footie Analyst

Riots erupt as Argentina’s most successful club River Plate are relegated

It just shows that you are never too good or too prestigious to go down. For a club that have dominated their league for so long it must have been gut-wrenching for the die-hard fan.

Argentina’s Estadio Monumental erupted into violence on Sunday night as the country’s most successful club River Plate were relegated for the first time in their 110-year history.

Just five days before the country hosts the Copa America, supporters of the Buenos Aires club fought with police inside the stadium where the final of the world’s oldest international tournament will be held on July 24.

There were reports that one spectator had died of a heart attack as violence spilled on to the streets.

At least 65 were injured, including 25 police officers who were taken to hospital with multiple injuries – two with suspected fractured skulls. There were 50 arrests.

River’s relegation was sealed by a 1-1 draw with Belgrano, meaning a 3-1 aggregate defeat in a play-off.

Supporters reacted by throwing missiles and trying to tear down fences keeping them from the pitch. Riot police responded by firing water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.

Argentina has a dark recent history of fan violence and River’s Barrabrava hooligans later wielded iron bars, threw stones and lit fires in the streets around the stadium, while many of the frightened 60,000 supporters tried to avoid the clashes by staying inside the Monumental for two hours after the final whistle.

Television footage later showed shops had been looted and vehicles set alight as the violence spread.

For a high-rolling club nicknamed Los Millionarios, who have celebrated 33 league titles and count Mario Kempes, Gabriel Batistuta and Javier Mascherano among their famous former players, relegation was an unbearable shock.

Authorities had considered playing the match behind closed doors following trouble during the first leg in Cordoba, but instead let the game go ahead with more than 2,200 riot police on duty.

It is hardly the image Argentina wanted to portray on the eve of the three-week Copa America, which should be a celebration of South American football.

The tournament has previously been a stage for the likes of Diego Maradona, Alfredo di Stefano, Garrincha and Enzo Francescoli to taste international tournament football for the first time.

Below is a video of the action that took place.

Source: DailyMail

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