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Clashes rock talks on new stadium for Argentina’s Boca


Buenos Aires (AFP) – A community meeting on whether to build a new stadium for legendary Argentine football club Boca Juniors descended into a brawl, leaving two people wounded, officials said Thursday.

The wounded men, one of whom was stabbed in the neck, are members of a group called Boca is the People that is fighting efforts by the club’s politically connected president to build a new stadium.

The group said its members were attacked at the neighborhood forum Wednesday evening as they voiced their opposition to plans to replace the current stadium, a beloved but aging venue known as the Bombonera, or chocolate box.

It pointed the finger at President Mauricio Macri’s party, Republican Proposal (PRO).

Boca’s director, Daniel Angelici, is a close ally of the conservative president, who preceded him as head of the club.

“A mob answering to a PRO precinct boss… started physically and verbally attacking us,” Boca is the People said in a statement.

One of those wounded was Fernando Abal Medina, the brother of a senator and one-time chief of staff to former president Cristina Kirchner, the leftist leader Macri replaced in December.

Abal Medina “is out of danger, but he has to remain under observation because he took a whole lot of punches,” said his brother, Juan Manuel Abal Medina.

The other victim, a 25-year-old man who was stabbed with a knife, is also out of danger despite losing a lot of blood, he said.

Boca, one of Argentina’s most popular and successful clubs, issued a statement denying involvement.

PRO leader and Buenos Aires mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta said for his part that his party does not have any “mobs.”

Boca, a hardscrabble port neighborhood, is known for its brightly colored houses and sultry tango dancers. It has been up in arms over plans to replace the Bombonera, which opened in 1940.

The proposed $400-million stadium would have a capacity of 75,000 — 20,000 more than the Bombonera — but fewer cheap seats for the club’s rowdy, working-class fan base.

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