‘They killed my son and me too,’ says mother of slain Brazilian supporter
RIO DE JANEIRO // Just 40 days before the country hosts the Fifa World Cup, the ugly side of Brazilian football was on view on Saturday after a fan died when he was struck by a toilet bowl thrown following a match in the host city of Recife.
Santa Cruz, a second-tier side based in the northeastern coastal city, had drawn with visiting Parana late on Friday when violence erupted outside the Arruda stadium, across town from a brand new World Cup venue.
Some ripped out toilet bowls and threw them at fans congregated below, fatally injuring one, a police spokesman said.
Brazil’s Tribunal for Sporting Justice (STJD) immediately opened an investigation and ruled the Arruda stadium be closed pending its outcome after the latest in a series of violent football-related incidents in the country.
Police named the dead man as Paulo Ricardo Gomes da Silva.
His mother, Joelma, told local radio: “They killed my son and me too – I would not wish the pain I am suffering today on anybody.”
Local television said Da Silva had become embroiled in a quarrel with organised groups of opposing fans following a match that drew about 8,000 supporters.
Brazil international striker Fred, who recently took a stand against organised fan groups including those at his own club Fluminense after some physically threatened him, decried the Recife fatality.
“This is another sad chapter of violence which reinforces the need for immediate changes in the relationship between clubs and fans in Brazil,” Fred said in a post to social media.
Urging the game to present a united anti-hooligan front, Fred said the incident “reinforces our great struggle against this faceless enemy that saddens a sport (which is) a symbol of our country worldwide.”
Recife has built a new stadium, the Pernambuco Arena, for four World Cup matches on the city’s outskirts, although with no top flight side to support some locals fear the venue could prove an expensive white elephant.
Brazilian media quoted Santa Cruz president Antonio Luiz Neto as insisting his club and the police had done their best to ensure home and away fans left the Arruda stadium 15 minutes apart to minimize the risk of clashes.
According to Globo, three more fans were injured, one seriously, in the violence, which followed several instances of hooliganism in recent months in Brazil.
During a major incident in December, fans of Atletico Paranaense clashed with visiting team Vasco da Gama, television cameras focusing on one bloodied man mercilessly kicked in the body and head.
President Dilma Rousseff said Brazil would not tolerate such behavior.
But dozens of Corinthians supporters subsequently invaded their club’s training complex and attacked Sao Paulo club players.
Brazil has been racing to prepare for the World Cup amid a series of construction delays and huge cost overruns.
It will cost more than US$11 billion (Dh40.4bn) to stage the event that the five-times champions last hosted in 1950 on a much smaller scale.
The bill has angered many citizens who say the money spent at new state of the art stadiums, some in cities without a major team, such as Recife itself, would have been better spent on public services and infrastructure.
In June, more than a million Brazilians marched nationwide to decry the cost of the Cup and some recent protests, while smaller, have ended in violence.
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Published: May 4, 2014 04:00 AM