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Terrifying violence breaks out between Argentine and Brazilian soccer fans: mom sweeps her 2-year-old son to safety

The Brazilian police entered the area and began using excessive force, dramatically escalated the situation. Instead of calming the chaos, they began brutally assaulting Argentine fans.

  • 4 months ago
  • December 13, 2023
6 min read
Days leading up to the historic match at Maracaná stadium | Photo courtesy Melina Fosatti Days leading up to the historic match at Maracaná stadium | Photo courtesy Melina Fosatti
journalist’s notes
interview subject
Melina Fosatti, 34, is an accomplished interior designer and entrepreneur, leading her own decor company. Married to Ezequiel, she is also a devoted mother to their 2-year-old son Enzo. Passionate about soccer, Melina and her family are fervent supporters of the Argentine National Soccer Team, having attended all seven matches of the Qatar World Cup in 2022, where Argentina triumphed as world champions after a 36-year hiatus.
background information
Argentina and Brazil’s soccer teams, among the strongest in South America and the world, have a long-standing, intense rivalry extending beyond the field into the stands. The November 21, 2023 match was a historic moment in this rivalry, with Argentina securing a 1-0 win over Brazil. This match was Brazil’s first home defeat in World Cup Qualifiers in its history. However, the game began nearly 30 minutes late due to a significant disturbance. A general fight broke out among the Argentine fans, leading to severe police intervention. The players themselves attempted to defuse the situation, and following their unsuccessful efforts, they retreated to the locker room for 17 minutes until order was restored. For more in-depth coverage, see reports from Infobae, Swissinfo, and TyC Sports.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil This past November, my family and I embarked on an exciting trip to Brazil to cheer for the Argentine National Soccer Team. We eagerly looked forward to a day of sportsmanship and energy at the iconic Maracaná Stadium. However, our anticipation quickly turned into a shocking nightmare moments before the much-awaited game.

Plunged into chaos, fans in the stadium morphed into adversaries, turning seats into makeshift weapons. The enthusiastic rivalry became outright violence and the Brazilian police refused to defuse the situation. Instead, they aggressively confronted Argentine fans, further fueling the unrest.

Amid this upheaval, I found a way onto the field to escape the chaos. Despite Argentina’s victory, that day in November remains etched in my memory. Distress overshadowed the joy of our win.

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At Maracaná Stadium, rivalry gave way to palpable tension

My husband and I share a unique bond. We avidly follow Argentina’s National Soccer Team, journeying across the globe to support them. On each adventure, we take an enthusiastic companion: our two-year-old son. On this occasion, we ventured to Rio de Janeiro.

Upon arriving at our hotel, we settled in to prepare for the much-anticipated soccer match between Argentina and Brazil on November 21, 2023. However, as we entered the Maracaná Stadium that day, we met an unexpected challenge. Surrounded by a sea of Brazilian fans in vibrant yellow, a palpable tension filled the air.

The tension escalated when the stadium erupted with whistles during the Argentine anthem. In a show of solidarity, we sang louder, trying to rise above the disrespect. Unfortunately, some Argentine fans mirrored that disrespect during the Brazilian anthem, exacerbating the situation further.

Prioritizing our safety, I always ensure my son and I are positioned near an exit. When I head the unsettling sound of seats cracking, I immediately took action, urging security to let us onto the field. In seconds, those seats became dangerous projectiles flying over us.

Then, the Brazilian police entered the area and began using excessive force, dramatically escalated the situation. Instead of calming the chaos, they began brutally assaulting Argentine fans. Amid this turmoil, I held my son tightly, pushing against the exit door and trying to stay calm for his sake. Somehow, we managed to escape. Once we made it out of our seats, I witnessed a horrifying scene. The police attacked everyone, even targeting women, children, and the elderly in a violent frenzy. At the field’s edge, I noticed a stark change in my son. The lively, excited child I was accustomed to became withdrawn and lifeless.

Argentine soccer stars turn into saviors

Standing at the field, I took several deep breaths, trying to remain calm. Yet, I became visibly shaken. My son’s numb, confused expression filled me with worry. “What will the long-term psychological effects be,” I worried. In a panic, I started screaming. Concern consumed me for my husband, mother, and father who remained in the stands. As I watched terrified children trying to escape the violence my distress skyrocketed.

Moments later, my husband and mother joined me. Overcome with emotion, my mother screamed uncontrollably. I handed my son to my husband and began searching for my father. Journalists on the field began asking for interviews in the middle of the chaos. I ignored them and continued searching for my dad. Then, I saw something that plunged me into despair.

The family from Argentina eagerly anticipate the Brazilian match off against Argentina before the pre-game clash at the stadium. | Photo courtesy Melina Fosatti

The Brazilian police were beating my father. Thank goodness my husband swept in and intervened, bringing him to us. As the nightmare continued, something incredible happened. The professional soccer players from the Argentine team entered the area and began defending people in the stands, still under attack. Normally, their presence would fill me with excitement, but all I could think about was my family’s safety.

After my husband safely escorted my father out of harm’s way, I felt a moment of relief. Meanwhile, celebrity soccer players Franco Armani and Dibu Martinez offered companionship to my son. Their grace and bravery stunned me. , providing grace and bravery. I recall left-back Nicolás Tagliafico offering water to us and providing some comfort.

Argentina wins but family fears reprisal

As the situation stabilized, I insisted on returning to our seats, determined not to let the chaos overshadow our experience. However, the altered atmosphere persisted. Throughout the game, I stayed vigilant, watching for any threatening action by the police. Unable to relax or fully celebrate, tension enveloped me, and peace became impossible.

The moment Argentina scored the winning goal in the second half, my emotions tangled into a complex web. I felt joy for my team, but battled fear of Brazilian retaliation. The entire experience dampened my spirits. Meanwhile, the policemen’s hostile gazes made us feel like criminals. Protecting my son from further distress and ensuring our safe return to the hotel became my primary focus.

By the time we reached the safety of our hotel, my phone overflowed with notifications. The broadcast of the event showed me, capturing my anxiety and desperation. This triggered messages from friends and family worldwide. Seeing those images of me deeply distressed, and my son in a daze, upset all of my loved ones. When I saw the photos of my baby so visibly affected, it broke my heart.

The night became even more difficult as my son developed a fever and began whining in his sleep, haunted by nightmares. He slept a lot the next day, clearly affected by the trauma of wha we endured. Yet, gradually, he started to recover, returning to his usual, cheerful demeanor.

Despite the ordeal, our commitment to supporting the Argentine National Team stands firm. This incident hasn’t dimmed our passion. However, I now feel hesitant about attending matches in Brazil, considering the excessive police violence and the apparent disregard for fans’ well-being. Nevertheless, we’re gearing up for our next adventure.

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