Supporters of Argentina and Brazil clashed in the stands on Tuesday during a World Cup 2026 qualifying game. Argentina players walked off the pitch as they refused to play with the chaos in the crowd. The game eventually started around 30 minutes after the intended beginning time. The defending World Cup champions emerged with a 1-0 victory.

The historic three points were earned for Argentina by defender Nicolas Otamendi with a powerful header on 63 minutes. This goal effectively ended Brazil‘s qualification campaign with a record-breaking third consecutive loss for the Seleção.

Nevertheless, the brawls that broke out among the spectators cast a shadow over the game. Because of this, the World Cup qualifying derby was even postponed.

What happened during the game?

After Brazilian authorities punished Argentine supporters for fighting during the national anthems, the animosity between the two most successful teams in international football escalated into violence.

Officers confronted visiting fans who ripped up and threw chairs at them. Fearing for their safety, fans in the area rushed onto the field as the violence broke out. A stretcher removed at least one wounded spectator from the venue.

Brazilian police intervened to stop the brawl that broke out between the two groups of supporters during the national anthems. The Argentine national squad, led by Lionel Messi, was enraged by their harsh treatment of the fans.

After the national anthems, Argentina players watch on as chaos unfolds in the stands in Rio de Janeiro.
After the national anthems, Argentina players watch on as chaos unfolds in the stands in Rio de Janeiro.

After the national anthems, Argentina players watch on as chaos unfolds in the stands in Rio de Janeiro.

After gathering his colleagues, the Inter Miami striker made his way to the stand, where the altercation was unfolding. He begged the police and the Argentine supporters, some of whom threw toppled chairs at the security guards, to be quiet.

Images of children sobbing in the stands surfaced. One shows a mother attempting to escape the carnage by climbing over the seats with her kid in her arms.

One incredible incident occurred when Emiliano Martinez, the goalkeeper for Aston Villa, involved himself. His goal was to attempt to stop a police officer from hitting an Argentine supporter with his baton by pulling his arm.

Following his team’s exit from the field, Messi led them back into the locker room. The Argentine squad remained in the changing room for 10 minutes. Then, half an hour after the scheduled start time, the game began.

What did Lionel Messi say?

Officers from Brazil’s state military police were “involved in a scuffle among fans,” according to a statement from the force. They added that they took a lady into custody on suspicion of racially abusing a Maracanã employee.

An official statement from the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said that mixed-gender spectators are “standard” at FIFA and CONMEBOL matches.

Argentine star, Lionel Messi of Inter Miami spoke out after the game, claiming that “a tragedy could have happened” due to the way police handled supporters on the sidelines.

“We saw how [the police] were hitting the people, it already happened in the Libertadores final,” Messi commented while taking a swipe at the Fluminense triumph against Boca Juniors’ antics at the Maracanã. “They were more focused on that than on the game.

“We went to the locker room because it was the best way to calm everything down, a tragedy could have happened. We are a family, we decided to play to make situation more calm.”