Latin America & Caribbean

Clashes after Argentina's River Plate club relegation

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Media captionPolice used water cannon to disperse River Plate fans at the end of the match

Dozens of people have been injured in clashes that broke out in Buenos Aires after Argentina's legendary football club River Plate were relegated to the second division.

The violence erupted inside the stadium. Street battles between angry fans and police continued outside.

River needed to win by two clear goals against Belgrano de Cordoba, but only managed a 1-1 draw.

This meant that River dropped to the country's B league for the first time.

The match, held in River's Monumental stadium, had to be abandoned in the final minute, amid chaotic scenes.

Image caption River Plate's fate seemed sealed after Mariano Pavone missed a penalty

Police fired water cannon up into the stands, following a pitch invasion by furious River fans.

Players from both teams had to be escorted off the field.

The violence continued after the game, with clashes outside the stadium between hardcore fans and helmeted riot police, as helicopters hovered overhead.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas, and also deployed mounted units to try to disperse the fans, who threw rocks and set fire to vehicles and rubbish bins.

At least 65 people were hurt, among them more than 20 police officers, according to Argentine media.

In all, more than 2,000 police had been deployed before the game in an unparalleled security operation for a club game.


The game itself was a fiercely fought contest. River had gone 1-0 up within the first five minutes.

But they saw their lead slip in the second half, after a Belgrano goal.

Then the man who had scored River's goal, Mariano Pavone, had a penalty saved, to the stunned reaction of more than 50,000 home fans. And that effectively sealed their fate.

By the end of the game, some of their players were in tears.

River, which has won more domestic titles than any other club (33), was one of only three never to have dropped out of the first division.

Many commentators have described it as a drop into the "abyss".

Argentina's press reacted to the result with disbelief.

The national daily, Clarin, wrote: "No-one, absolutely no-one, will be able to forget this day."

It said while Belgrano had been the "executioner", they did not bear most of the responsibility for River's fate.

And it added that "even the poor refereeing... and the management errors" that had helped bring the club to this point did not justify the incidents at the end of the game.

"Incredible but real" was the headline in the sports paper, Ole.

It flagged up the fact that River's descent has been presided over by one of its all-time greatest players - Daniel Passarella, the club's current president.

Image caption Police were among the injured in the troubles that marred the match

In recent weeks, River's fans have reacted angrily to a string of poor results, demanding his resignation.

It has been a steep fall from grace for Passarella, the man who captained Argentina's World Cup winning squad in 1978.

He was idolised by River's supporters when he played for club.

River's decline on the pitch has been mirrored by financial problems.

The club is currently carrying an estimated $19m (£12m) of debts.

This could mean River is forced to sell off several players.

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