Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Final abandoned amid gun claims

Security guards stand guard on the field as Brazil's Sao Paulo FC players and referees wait for the return of Argentina's Tigre's players (AP)

A major South American football final has been abandoned amid scuffles on the pitch and claims of security guards threatening one of the teams with guns.

The second leg of the Copa Sudamericana between Sao Paulo and Tigre ended in chaos after fighting broke out between the players as they made their way off the pitch at half-time.

After a goalless first leg in Argentina, Brazilian side Sao Paulo took a 2-0 lead on home turf. Tigre, from Argentina, refused to return for the second half, claiming their players were attacked by security officials in the dressing rooms.

Chilean referee Enrique Osses abandoned the match after a 30-minute delay, awarding the victory to Sao Paulo, who were presented with the trophy in a formal ceremony.

Tigre coach Nestor Gorosito claimed armed security officers beat his players and pointed guns at them during half-time. "During the break, a big guy came in with a gun," he said on Fox Sports. "Some policeman started to hit some of my players. We tried to defend ourselves."

Gorosito also complained about the treatment his team received throughout their preparations for the match. "We trained two hours away from our hotel, and it took us more than an hour to get to the stadium," he said. "We were unable to warm up on the pitch."

Osses said: "We did not see anything, but we have heard some things about what happened. We saw there were some injuries to the Tigre players but I don't know what caused them."

South American Football Confederation official Romer Osuna said: "The referee abandoned the game because it was not right to play on. This decision is final. It is a shame that a continental final finished in this fashion."

Sao Paulo had dominated the first half with Lucas, playing his final match before joining Paris St Germain, at the heart of the action, scoring one goal and creating the second. But he was also on the receiving end of several tough challenges, with one elbow to the face drawing blood.

Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni claimed the Tigre players were overly aggressive on the pitch, adding: "We don't know what happened, but the Tigre players came to Brazil to fight, not to play. I really don't know what happened in the dressing rooms."

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