Violence sees Sao Paulo handed title


Fri, Dec 14, 2012 - Page 19

Sao Paulo were awarded the Copa Sudamericana title on Wednesday when violent scenes on and off the pitch prompted Argentine club Club Atletico Tigre to refuse to play the second half of the second leg of the final.

Tigre officials said their players were attacked in the dressing room area by security officials during the halftime break, following confrontations on the pitch at the end of the first half.

Tigre coach Nestor Gorosito came on to the field area briefly during the half and told reporters “they pulled two revolvers,” referring to unspecified security officials. “We’re not going to play anymore.”

Referee Enrique Osses of Chile awarded the victory to Sao Paulo after waiting about 30 minutes for Tigre to retake the field.

Sao Paulo led 2-0 after the first half with goals from Lucas and Osvaldo. The first leg of the final last week in Buenos Aires ended 0-0.

The two teams scuffled going off the pitch after the first half and while it was unclear what happened in the dressing room area, Argentine television showed what appeared to be blood stains spattered on walls.

“Police entered and struck our players with sticks,” Gorosito told Argentine television. “It was crazy. What happened was crazy.”

Romer Osuna, a Bolivian official with CONMEBOL, South American soccer’s governing body, said Tigre players were afraid to return to the field.

“The Tigre people declined to play because they considered security was not good enough,” Osuna told Fox Sports.

The violence and chaos at the final of South America’s No. 2 club tournament will cast a nasty shadow over Brazil’s preparations for the 2014 World Cup. The violent scenes on Wednesday will add to concerns about the efficacy of planning and organization of soccer in Brazil.

FIFA, the world governing body, has said Brazil is behind schedule in its World Cup preparations and has urged organizers to speed up the construction of infrastructure.

Violence threatens many matches in South America, with Brazil and Argentina particularly troubled.

Sao Paulo scored two goals in five minutes in the first half — a left-footed drive from Lucas in the 23rd minute and a lobbing shot from the right wing by Osvaldo in the 28th.

Sao Paulo, one of Latin America’s most famous clubs, are three-time winners of the Copa Libertadores — South America’s most prestigious club tournament. They have also won the FIFA Club World Cup once and twice won the Intercontinental Cup, the predecessor to the Club World Cup.

It was the club’s first Copa Sudamericana title.

Modest Argentine club Tigre were playing in their first international final and have never won the Argentine first division.