At least one person died and many more were injured after fans clashed with police during Gimnasia’s clash with Boca Juniors in Argentina on Thursday, with tear gas and rubber bullets fired.
There were just nine minutes on the clock when match referee Hernan Mastrangelo had to call a halt to proceedings as it became clear that a serious incident was unfolding outside of the stadium.
Only home supporters were in attendance in La Plata as Buenos Aires province banned travelling fans from attending games in 2013 following frequent outbreaks of violence.
It has therefore been suggested by local media in Argentina that away supporters were trying to force their way into the ground, leading the authorities to take action.
A 57-year-old man, named as Gimnasia supporter Cesar Reguiero, died following the clashes. Sergio Berni, minister of security for the province of Buenos Aires told reporters: “Unfortunately, there is a dead person. He died of a heart problem when he was transported to the hospital.”
Tear gas that was fired outside of the venue drifted inside, leading to players being forced from the field with their faces covered while supporters flooded from the terraces and onto the pitch as they desperately sought an exit.
Gimnasia player Leonardo Morales said of events that saw his family caught up in the chaos: “My two-year-old son couldn't breathe. We feel desperate and worried about all the people in the stands. This is crazy. We were playing a normal football game and it turned it into this and the feeling that our relatives almost died.”
Match official Mastrangelo added to TyC Sports on his decision to take decisive action: “I spoke with the players in the locker room to find out how they were and several told me that they were very worried about their relatives who were in the stadium.
“At no time did we have the physical integrity to continue the match since the air was unbreathable. This is the first time something similar has happened to me. It is a situation that makes us all very sad.”
A full investigation into what happened and why such a situation came to pass is set to be opened by sporting and governing bodies.
The Argentine Football Association has said in an official statement: “The AFA strongly repudiates the events that took place today in the vicinity of Gimnasia stadium and expresses its commitment to continue working to eradicate this kind of incidents that tarnishes the spirit of football.”
Boca Juniors have expressed their “regret” at seeing a football supporter lose his life at a game and have appealed for “a profound call for reflection”.
Gimnasia have said: “We will demand that what happened be investigated until those responsible for this tragic day are known.
“Our club complied with the protocols established by the security agencies. There was no overselling tickets and the behaviour of our partners and fans was correct.”
They went to add that the club “repudiates the excessive actions of the security forces at the entrance and surroundings” in and around the stadium.
The Liga Profesional de Futbol has said that the game in question will be rescheduled for a later date.