2026 FIFA World Cup qualification:

Kickoff in the much anticipated World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina was delayed by roughly half an hour on Tuesday after a fight broke out in the stands at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.

Iran PressAmerica: Argentina’s Nicolas Otamendi scored to lead his team to a 1-0 win over Brazil on Wednesday in the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifier group match at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. 

Both sides arrived on the pitch as scheduled and took their team photos as a fight broke out between rival fans. Police eventually got involved and were also fighting fans, some of whom ripped seats out of the stadium and threw them away. It is not immediately clear what sparked the in-stadium violence.

The Argentina players initially asked fans to calm down, but Argentina captain Lionel Messi soon led his team off the field and into the locker room, which seemingly implied the game was at risk of not being played. Before joining his team down the tunnel, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez also entered the fray at one point and briefly fought a police officer. Brazil players, meanwhile, remained on the pitch.

After about 10 minutes, the Argentina players returned and after a heated discussion with their opponents and the officials, they began brief warm-ups and the match officially kicked off.

The sides are in the early stages of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup. Argentina entered the match atop CONMEBOL's ten-team standings with four wins in five games, while Brazil sat fifth after just two wins and in the midst of a three-game winless run.


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