Connect to share and comment

UPDATE 1-Soccer-Corinthians fans barred after flare death

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

(Adds detail)

* Libertadores Cup champions to play behind closed doors

* Flares a common sight in South American stadiums

By Andrew Downie

Feb 22 (Reuters) - Libertadores Cup champions Corinthians will play their upcoming home matches in the tournament behind closed doors after fans were accused of killing a young Bolivian supporter with a thrown flare, Brazilian media reported late on Thursday.

Bolivian police charged 12 fans with homicide after the 14-year-old was killed during San Jose's 1-1 home draw against the Brazilian side in Oruro on Wednesday, media from both countries reported.

The move was temporary until the South American Football Confederation, Conmebol, could make a definitive ruling on the case, ESPN Brasil, O Globo and the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported, citing a statement from the authority.

The Conmebol website was down, and the announcement could not be immediately verified. An employee at the confederation's headquarters in Paraguay said nobody was available at that time of night to answer Reuters' queries.

The decision would be a major blow to Corinthians, the Sao Paulo club that won the Libertadores Cup for the first time last July before beating Chelsea to win the World Club Cup in December.

The ban means their famously passionate fans will be excluded from next Wednesday's home game against Colombian side Millonarios and subsequent home matches against Tijuana (Mexico) and San Jose.

Corinthians had already boasted of selling 83,500 tickets for the three games.

The Libertadores Cup - South America's equivalent of the European Champions League - is the biggest club tournament in Latin American soccer.

The Brazilians were playing their first match in the defence of the trophy on Wednesday when the incident occurred early in the match.

The game continued and the teams played out a 1-1 draw at the Jesus Bermudez stadium in Oruro, a mining city 3,700 metres above sea level.

The boy was identified as San Jose supporter Kevin Beltran, and angry Bolivians in the crowd chanted "murderers" at Corinthians fans, Brazil's Globo said on its website (www.globoesporte.globo.com).

"I would exchange my world title for the boy's life," a visibly upset Corinthians coach Tite told reporters.

FLARE DEATHS

The club declared a week of mourning and said players would wear black armbands for their next two matches.

Local media said the remnants of the flare did not correspond to the kind seen in Bolivia, where ardent soccer supporters or demonstrators use carton fireworks with no plastic parts, suggesting it may have been brought into the country.

It was not the first death from a flare at a soccer match with at least two previous incidents taking place in Barcelona and Buenos Aires.

Guillem Lazaro, a 13-year-old Spanish boy, was killed in March 1992 by a flare that hit him in the chest at Espanyol's old Sarria stadium in Barcelona on his first visit to a match.

In August 1983, Argentine Racing Club fan Roberto Basile, who was 26, was hit in the throat and killed by a flare shot horizontally the length of the pitch at Boca Juniors' La Bombonera.

Boca fans launched three flares from the home terraces behind one of the goals at the same time. One landed on the pitch, another flew out of the stadium and the third hit Basile on the visiting fans' terraces.

Fans regularly take flares into matches in South America, sneaking them in past lax security checks.

Brazilians fans and media roundly condemned the incident on Thursday but they also stressed it was not out of keeping with the often riotous surroundings in which South American games are played.

Fans routinely make noise outside visiting side's hotels to keep them awake before matches and sometimes team buses are stoned.

Police shields are often used to protect players from missiles and fluids thrown by crowds at corners and throw ins.

Referees and other officials are also targeted. (Additional reporting by Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro, Carlos Quiroga in La Paz and Daniela Desantis in Asuncion; Editing by John O'Brien)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130222/update-1-soccer-corinthians-fans-barred-after-flare-death