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Crowd violence at Superclasico prompts Boca Juniors to close terrace

May 6, 2013, 2:16 PM EDT

A Boca Juniors' fan is seen behind the fence as he cheers during their Argentine First Division soccer match against River Plate in Buenos Aires Reuters

Boca Juniors supporters got a little too feisty during Sunday night’s Superclasico with River Plate, prompting the closure of two tiers of terracing at their La Bombonera stadium.

The match, which ended in a 1-1 draw, was marred by Boca fans lighting flares, setting off fireworks and throwing objects into the penalty box where River were defending. In addition to the terrace closing, the Argentinian club faces a possible suspension of the entire ground.

The majority of the action occurred in the 75th minute when fans began to mock River for their relegation. The events caused referee German Delfino to halt play for nearly 10 minutes and he claimed to come very close to abandoning the match, which would have seen Boca docked points. It was the first Superclasico at La Bombonera since River were promoted back to the first division after relegation in 2011.

Public prosecutor Martin Lopez Zavaleta told TN television on Monday that police have opened a case to see who’s responsible and are focused on investigating the fireworks taken into the stadium. He explained, “[t]he (security) operation failed because there should not have been all those fireworks and banners inside the stadium. We confiscated film footage, we’re not ruling anything out.”

River took the lead just 45 seconds into the match when Manuel Lanzini opened the scoring with a perfectly placed header.  In the 38th minute Boca found their leveler as Santiago Silva scored from 16 yards out on an assist by Walter Erviti. With the result, Boca to 18th in the Argentine Premier Division table while River remained 3rd in the table, four points adrift of league leaders Lanus.

In a sick, twisted, die-hard fan kind of way, this is exactly the type of behavior that I’d expect (and want) to see if I were fortunate enough to have a ticket to the Superclasico. That being said, there’s no getting around the liability concerns of people projecting firecrackers and objects onto the pitch. That just can’t happen in the modern day.

And while closing the terraces seems to be an appropriate move under these circumstances, I hope it’s only for a limited time. An extended closure would seem harsh on the fans as it was the club itself that reinforced this culture through lax security and supervision.

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