World Cup qualifier between Syria and Lebanon halted after fans riot

Rival supporters seen throwing stones at each other outside stadium in Sidon

Syrian fans in the stands at the Saida Municipal Stadium in Sidon, Lebanon, on March 24. Reuters
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A World Cup qualifier football match between Syria and Lebanon was suspended several times on Thursday after fans began rioting in the stands and outside the stadium.

The referee and both teams left the pitch at the Saida Municipal Stadium in Sidon after the violence broke out.

After clearing the stadium of fans, the Qatari referee resumed the game about 30 minutes later — with a heavy security presence — for the few minutes that remained.

Syria won the match 3-0.

It is unknown what triggered the outbreak of violence, but a commentator on Abu Dhabi Sports TV said during a live broadcast of the match that some Lebanese fans had appeared to be throwing water bottles at their Syrian counterparts.

“The biggest impact this has is on the Lebanese team,” the commentator said.

“There are other teams that dream of playing such a game on their own soil, like Syria.”

Social media footage showed fans hurling stones at each other outside of the stadium as Lebanese security forces stepped in to break up the clashes.

First-half goals from Syria’s Alaa Al Dali, Mardik Mardikian and Mohammad Al Marmour earned the team their first win of this round of qualifiers.

A number of prominent players on Lebanon’s team were not on the pitch due to injury.

Updated: March 24, 2022, 5:42 PM