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Kickoff Delayed as Brazil-Argentina FIFA World Cup Qualifier Marred by Fan Clashes at Maracana Stadium

The commencement of the Brazil vs. Argentina FIFA World Cup qualifier faced a 30-minute delay at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium due to clashes among rival supporters. As both teams lined up for their national anthems, cameras captured disturbing scenes in the stands where Brazil and Argentina fans were seen engaging in physical altercations. The situation escalated, prompting a police intervention with charges to restore order. The response, however, drew disapproval from the Argentina side, led by Lionel Messi.

Messi, visibly concerned, signalled towards the disturbance and conferred with match officials before deciding to lead his teammates off the pitch, declaring, “We’re not playing, we’re leaving.” After a brief hiatus, the Argentina players returned to the field, and the match eventually commenced.

The Maracana Stadium holds particular significance for Argentina, as it marked the end of a 28-year trophy drought with a 1-0 victory against Brazil in the Copa America final over two years ago.

Both teams entered the qualifier following defeats in the previous round, with Brazil losing 2-1 to Colombia and Argentina facing a 2-0 defeat at home against Uruguay. Argentina leads the South American qualifying group with 12 points from five matches, followed by Uruguay with 10 points, and Colombia and Venezuela with nine and eight points, respectively. Brazil, positioned fifth with seven points, will host the reigning World Cup champions.

Looking ahead to the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, which will feature 48 teams, the top six South American teams will receive direct entry, while the seventh-place team can secure a spot through an intercontinental playoff.

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