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World Cup 2014
 
ON THE SPOT

Steps to control intense rivalry

Published on Jul 7, 2014 7:32 AM
 
In this screen grab from a video, Argentina fans – with one holding a make-believe spine – can be seen singing songs to cheer the injury suffered by Brazil star Neymar. -- SOURCE: EUROSPOT

The idea of a Brazil versus Argentina World Cup final may be a mouth-watering prospect for the neutral fan.

After all, the two footballing superpowers have never met in a title match.

But, with an all-South American final a real possibility on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, authorities are on alert to make sure the intense rivalry between the two neighbours does not go overboard.

On Saturday, Brazilian police detained the alleged leader of an Argentinian football hooligan group inside the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, where Argentina beat Belgium 1-0 in the quarter-finals.

A justice ministry statement said that Pablo Alvarez, who entered Brazil illegally and tried to trick authorities by dressing up as a Swiss fan, will be deported.

So far, 40 Argentina fans with records of hooliganism have been deported since the start of the World Cup.

The latest incident comes at a time when the fans of La Albiceleste have taken their continued taunting of Brazil fans to a new low.

A group was filmed singing and mocking Brazil's Neymar while holding a make-believe spine.

Brazil's star forward has been ruled out of the tournament after fracturing his vertebra in the 2-1 win over Colombia.

Argentina die-hards have also come up with a song specially for this World Cup which mocks Brazil's loss to Argentina in the 1990 World Cup, the last time the two sides met at the Finals.

It ends with the line "Maradona is better than Pele".

The media have witnessed, on more than one occasion, scuffles between the two groups of fans as a result of the taunting. And the instigators are often the visitors.

Tensions between Argentina and Brazil fans have been simmering since the tournament started.

Last month, after Argentina beat Iran 1-0 in Belo Horizonte, rival fans got into a drunken street clash, launching beer bottles and insults at one another. Although no injuries were reported, some damage was done to public property and businesses.

Other incidents include an Argentinian fan shot in the leg during a bar fight and six La Albiceleste faithful arrested for trying to steal tickets from Brazil fans in Porto Alegre.

It is estimated that close to 100,000 Argentina fans are in Brazil.

The host country has taken great pains to ramp up security during the World Cup.

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff has ordered nearly 60,000 soldiers to complement the estimated 100,000 policemen patrolling the 12 host cities.

If Brazil do meet Argentina in the final, the city of Rio will need all the help it can get.

marclim@sph.com.sg

Background story

The media have witnessed, on more than one occasion, scuffles between the two groups of fans as a result of the taunting. And the instigators are often the visitors.

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