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Brazil police release Boca Juniors team after stadium brawl

July 21, 2021 GMT
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Military police stand guard by a bus carrying Argentina's Boca Juniors soccer team which is parked outside a police station in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Wednesday, July 21, 2021, the morning after the team was eliminated from the Copa Libertadores tournament which ended in a brawl and destruction in the locker room. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)
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Military police stand guard by a bus carrying Argentina's Boca Juniors soccer team which is parked outside a police station in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Wednesday, July 21, 2021, the morning after the team was eliminated from the Copa Libertadores tournament which ended in a brawl and destruction in the locker room. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Players of Argentina’s Boca Juniors spent the night in a bus outside a Brazilian police station before being allowed to leave Wednesday following a brawl with security after their Copa Libertadores penalty shootout loss to local Atletico Mineiro.

Police in the city of Belo Horizonte said they had questioned six members of the Argentine delegation, two of whom were fined 3,000 reals ($575) each for damages. The other four were charged with bodily injury and contempt and are supposed to appear in court at a later date.

Police did not release the names of those fined and charged.

The fight erupted as players from Boca Juniors returned to the locker room after the Tuesday night game. Video footage showed members of the team throwing punches and portable railings at security personnel.

The players, and the team as a whole, were infuriated that a goal that had been disallowed by a video review offside call — something that also happened in the first leg of the competition between the two teams.

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The Brazilian club said on Twitter that Boca players had been trying to break into their locker room and that they destroyed water coolers and railings.

The Boca delegation had been expected to fly back to Argentina that same night, online news site G1 reported, but the team bus was taken to the police station instead.

The bus was finally allowed to leave the police station around midday local time.

Boca team President Jorge Amor Ameal made no apologies, issuing an angry statement on Wednesday complaining that “two inexplicable rulings annulled legal goals,” saying they “destroyed the sporting spirit of the continent’s most prestigious tournament.”

He said the video had been used in a “treacherous” and “malicious” way.

He also took a clear slam at the regional soccer body Conmebol, which organized the Copa Libertadores, saying the situation “makes manifest the biased management of our continental football,” and denounced the “arbitrary management” of the competition.

Ameal also asserted that Boca’s players and staff were harmed during the “regrettable events,” and had to be delayed by more than 12 hours in order to avoid breaking a coronavirus bubble.

Santiago Mayor, spokesman for the military police in Belo Horizonte, told the Argentine TyC Sports channel that three Boca Juniors players had been identified as attacking security personnel, though he did not name them.

Both matches of the round-of-16 clash ended goalless, but Atletico Mineiro won 3-1 on penalties Tuesday night to advance.

Atletico Mineiro will face one of two Argentinian clubs in the next stage. River Plate and Argentinos Juniors drew 0-0 last week.

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