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Football: Argentine players arrested after on-pitch violence

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Players from Argentine club Arsenal de Sarandi returned home on Thursday after spending part of the night in cells following a bizarre confrontation with Brazilian police at the end of a Libertadores Cup match.

Arsenal, a modest club from the Buenos Aires suburbs, were in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte for a Libertadores Cup Group 3 match against Atletico Mineiro.

At the end of Wednesday's match, which Arsenal lost 5-2, various Argentine players confronted military police on the pitch, before throwing seats and other pieces of furniture in the dressing room, according to reports in the Brazilian sporting press.

Seven players were accused of causing the trouble, but the whole team were taken to police cells inside the Independencia stadium, the Argentine consul in Belo Horizonte told AFP.

"The whole team were there," said the consul, who insisted that no damage was caused in the dressing room.

"The players explained that all they wanted was to speak to the referee, but that their words were misinterpreted, and then the reaction by the police was unjustified."

Arsenal were ordered to pay a fine, and the team returned to Argentina on the same charter flight that brought them to the game, the consul confirmed.

Press reports claimed the fine amounted to around 38,000 reais ($19,000).

In an interview to Fox Sport, Atletico Mineiro director Eduardo Maluf accused the Arsenal players of assaulting a woman.

"They showed not an ounce of respect and attacked a woman," he said.

Military police colonel Claudia Romualdo said that she was hit in the chest by one player.

The incident is bad publicity for Brazil ahead of this year's Confederations Cup and next year's World Cup, with Belo Horizonte, one of the country's largest cities, a host venue in both competitions.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130404/football-argentine-players-arrested-after-pitch-violence