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Riots at Maracana force delay of Brazil-Argentina kickoff: Messi pulls his team off the field

The World Cup qualifying match between Brazil and Argentina was at risk of not taking place on Tuesday night, as the Argentine team returned to the dressing rooms at the onset of the disturbance.

Just a minute after the national anthems sounded at the legendary Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, a sector of the public found itself in the midst of a police group repressing some rioters, wearing albiceleste and verdeamarelhas jerseys.

Immediately, players and coaching staff from both teams picked sides. While the Argentine players approached the stands, urging their fans to remain calm, the verdeamarelha players chose to stay away from the problem.

Lionel Messi rallied the members of the albiceleste to leave the field, and everyone followed the captain to the locker room while Fernando Diniz, the coach of verdeamarelha, decided to keep all his players on the field.

Far from calming down, the issue in the stands escalated and spread to a wider sector.

Law enforcement, in a seemingly chaotic and unsuccessful security operation, held their ground, resorting to violence and repression, affecting both Brazilian and Argentine fans.

Dibu Martínez Confronts Police

The South American clash between the Brazil and Argentina national teams was, by far, the most awaited match in the soccer world, however, now beyond what Lionel Messi or any player of the 'Canarinha' does on the field, the topic of conversations will be what happened in the stands, after the confrontation between Argentina fans and the Rio de Janeiro police.

In response to these events, the world champion players rushed to the stands to assist their countrymen and prevent the violence from spreading.

The most involved of them all was Emiliano 'Dibu' Martínez, the controversial goalkeeper from Aston Villa in the English Premier League.

The Golden Glove winner at the last World Cup in Qatar 2022 was captured in several videos on social media attempting to jump into the Maracanã stands and take away a baton from one of the policemen who was repressing the albiceleste fans.

He was unsuccessful and was quickly separated from the confrontation that could have led to a genuine tragedy.

Following this, led by Argentina's captain Lionel Messi, the team, under the management of Lionel Scaloni, collectively left the playing field towards the locker rooms.

It was presumed that this would signal the end of the game, to be suspended.

However, to the surprise of all, the world champions returned to the sacred turf to start the game with a 27 minute delay.

Where do Brazil and Argentina stand in the CONMEBOL qualifiers?

Brazil entered the match in a crisis of results, ranking fifth in the CONMEBOL qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup with 7 points.

Meanwhile, Argentina was the competition leader with 12 points before the ball rolled at the Maracanã Stadium.

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