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Soccer Fans in Buenos Aires Turn Their Passion Into Something Ugly

Category: Football,Sports

The trouble is not a direct consequence of those things that make Argentine soccer so appealing, but it is a result of allowing them to slip from control, to let them be used as justification for anything. And, to Argentina, it is a source of shame that on Saturday night, it showed that side to the world.

As Boca Juniors’ bus approached Estadio Monumental a couple of hours before kickoff, it turned down Avenida Monroe, a well-known gathering spot for River fans before games and not, as a rule, the route a visiting team would take. It was traveling quickly, flanked by police outriders.

But as it slowed to turn a corner, the bus was confronted by hundreds of River fans. They threw stones, sticks and bottles. The windows shattered. The driver fainted. A Boca vice president, Horacio Paolini, had to take the wheel. The police, according to several reports, fired pepper spray to disperse the crowd. It drifted inside the bus.

A few moments later, Boca arrived at the stadium, its players coughing, retching, their throats burning from the gas. Shards of glass had hit two players, Pablo PĂ©rez and Gonzalo Lamardo, in the eye. Others had been cut by the debris.

“We had come to play a game, and we found a completely different situation,” said Marcelo London, a Boca official.

Boca immediately requested that the game be canceled or postponed. Conmebol, the competition organizer, demurred. It had a commitment to its broadcaster, Fox Sports. The Argentine government, with a summit meeting of the G20 to start in Buenos Aires this week, wanted this match out of the way.

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