Supporters of Argentina and Mexico were embroiled in fights inside the Lusail Iconic Stadium in Qatar as their teams played in a decisive Group C match. The fans had already come to blows in the run-up to the match.
Tensions were high on the pitch on Saturday, with Argentina needing to avoid defeat if they were to avoid leaving the World Cup in embarrassing fashion. Mexico also needed to secure all three points to have a chance to advance to the knockout stages following Poland’s 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia earlier that day.
And tempers boiled over in the stands among fan groups once again, after ugly scenes broke out on the streets of Qatar midweek. The footage showed those sitting close to each other letting emotions take over as they came to blows.
The atmosphere in the stadium was reportedly one of the best at the World Cup, although the low level of football on the pitch also created an aura of tension.
Argentina fans, in particular, are incredibly furious about their team’s performance in what is likely to be Lionel Messi’s last World Cup. The South American team suffered one of the most shocking defeats in the competition’s history earlier this week when they were beaten 2-1 by Saudi Arabia, giving them a great chance to break out of the group.
The defeat was certainly fresh in the minds of the fans who came face-to-face with supporters of Mexico on Wednesday night at Al Bidda Park in Doha, one of Qatar’s FIFA fan zones. Chants of ‘f*** Messi’ were heard emerging from Mexico’s camp, causing fights to break out and some minor injuries reportedly sustained.
The extent of the brawling in the stadium on Saturday is still unknown, though Qatari officials will surely be willing to keep fans apart when they leave the field to avoid further confrontation on a larger scale.
Organizers hoped that restricting the sale of alcohol in World Cup stadiums would limit violent outbursts between drink-fueled fans.
It was initially ruled that alcohol would be allowed at the competition, leading to Budweiser being named the title sponsor, but officials reversed that decision, instead limiting its sales to fan zones far from the stadiums.
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