A fan death marred the game between Boca Juniors and Gimnasia on Thursday night. Officials halted the match just nine minutes in due to an incident outside the Estadio Juan Carmelo Zerillo in La Plata, Argentina.
Initially, the game only allowed home fans into the stadium. Authorities banned traveling fans from attending away games in the area since 2013. Frequent issues regarding violence led to that ruling.
Reports claim nearly 10,000 fans gathered outside of the packed stadium during the unrest. The stadium only holds 20,000 people. Buenos Aires security minister Sergio Berni stated that an investigation into overselling tickets for the game will take place.
Also, Berni said that the fan death was caused by cardiac arrest. The 57-year-old man died from the commotion that included police tear gas. He was transferred to a local hospital after the incident, but did not survive.
Match referee Hernan Mastrangelo said that the air inside the stadium was filled with tear gas. ”It affected all of us on the field,” said the ref. ”The air became unbreathable. The situation got out of control and there were no security guarantees.”
Fan death, others injured outside Boca Juniors game
Fans were climbing through fencing in attempts to enter the full stadium. Police initially tried to control the situation outside of the stadium; however, the fracas then transitioned to inside the venue.
As police used tear gas, players rushed off of the pitch. In turn, many fans ran on to the pitch in an attempt to find an exit. Gimnasia defender Leonardo Morales described the commotion after things settled down.
“My two-year-old son couldn’t breathe,” stated Morales. “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.”
The incident Thursday night came just five days after the tragedy at an Indonesian soccer match. Over 130 people died after fans stormed the pitch and clashed with police. Soccer matches all around the globe this week have begun with a moment of silence in remembrance of those that lost their lives in the Indonesian disaster.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Photogamma