SAO PAULO (AP) — In the latest case of soccer violence in the host country of the 2014 World Cup, a second-division match in Brazil was stopped when fans threw rocks and explosives on the field.
There were no reports of serious injuries in Friday's game between Avai and host Paysandu in the northern city of Belem. Police said some Paysandu fans were detained. Television images showed one bomb thrown from the stands and exploding a few feet from police officers on the field. A few fans tried to break the fences separating them from the field. Police used pepper spray and batons against the fans in the stands.
Last week, seats were destroyed at a World Cup venue and police confronted fans inside two stadiums. Two matches were delayed two weeks ago because of fan fighting and overcrowded stands. After Avai scored in the 75th minute to lead 2-0, fans turned violent. A few minutes later, the referee decided it was not safe to continue as police tried to restore order.
Paysandu fans began throwing rocks toward Avai reserve players just after the visitors scored in the 75th minute at Curuzu Stadium to make it 2-0. The reserve players ran onto the field to escape fans who were throwing things at them, prompting the referee to interrupt the match and call for police.
The ref tried to continue the game after police temporarily controlled the situation behind the bench. But the problem escalated when fans behind one of the goals also began tossing rocks and explosives on the field.
Referee Grazianni Maciel Rocha talked to authorities before ending the game, giving Avai the 2-0 win. A victory at home was crucial to keep alive Paysandu's hopes of staying in the second division next year. The club is in relegation danger with eight rounds left.
Fan violence has become common in Brazil in recent weeks. World Cup organizers last week said more than 80 seats were destroyed at Arena Castelao by Fortaleza fans upset with the team missing out on promotion to the second division. A day earlier, more than 30 seats were damaged by fans of second-division club Ceara following a draw at the same venue.
That same weekend, police hit fans with batons inside Morumbi Stadium and later detained at least 30 people following a confrontation with supporters on one of the city's major avenues. Television images showed bloodied fans throwing punches at officers and some fans with small children trying to flee.
In Belo Horizonte, police had to use tear gas to contain Cruzeiro fans in the team's 1-0 loss to rival Atletico Mineiro. Police found homemade bombs with some of the fans, and television images showed at least one of the devices was hurled into the section where Atletico Mineiro fans were sitting.
Two weeks ago, a first-division match between Atletico Paranaense and Botafogo in the World Cup host city Curitiba was delayed at halftime because of fan fighting in the stands. The day before, a second-division game in the host city of Natal was delayed for nearly an hour when fans jumped onto the field to escape overcrowded stands.
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