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Violence Takes Over a Classic Rivalry in Uruguayan Football

Foto publicada por Jimmy Baikovicius en Flickr, bajo licencia Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Photo published by Jimmy Baikovicius on Flickr, under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Peñarol fans were responsible for a violent incident in the Amsterdam stands at the Centenario Stadium during the classic rivalry game against Nacional for the Opening Tournament, resulting in nine injured police officers and several arrests. The match had to be suspended momentarily due to the altercations during the second half. 

The reason for the riots were said to have been, according to statements from Peñarol fans, the robbing of a flag that honored Rodrigo Aguirre, a Peñarol fan who was assassinated by Nacional supporters in 2011 [es], and Nacional fans showing it in the Olympic stands for several minutes as demonstrated in a photograph that appeared in an article in El Observador entitled “The flag of discord“. [es]

Amsterdam [stands] after the classic rivalry game (@ObservadorUY) and the Rodrigo flag on the ‘ticolor barra’ [where Nacional fans were located], things that should be banished 

Peñarol's vice president, Edgard Welker, confirmed the fans’ version of the events to Radio Universal, according to the aforementioned article in El Observador, which also stated that Peñarol fans reacted to the robbery with aggression and other excesses.

The injured police officers walked away with varying injuries, cuts on upper and lower limbs, and lost teeth, as the Interior Ministry's Communications Unit stated for newspaper El País [es]. Police officers have also filed a report in the Ninth Precinct. 

The rivalry between Nacional and Peñarol dates back to the founding of both teams, the most popular and important in Uruguay, which even fight over which is the oldest club in the country. This classic head-to-head in Uruguayan football is the second oldest in the world, following the classic rivalry between England's Manchester United and Liverpool, and it tends to attract the attention of the fans that attend the matches in mass. 

In the ten minutes that the suspension lasted, some 200 Peñarol fans took to destroy the fence and equipment in the Amsterdam stand, trying to reach the Olympic stand where Nacional fans were located. Police forces intervened trying to control the skirmishes, coming face to face with reactions from Peñarol fans in a confrontation that left several police officers injured. 

Journalist Sergio Gorzi (@camaraceleste) expressed his dissatisfaction with the police force's actions on Twitter. 

It's always the same mistake! Instead of being inside, the police are outside to receive every blow. This whole thing with the fans is unspeakable.

On the other hand, the presiding judge, Juan Carols Fernández Lecchini, in charge of the incidents surrounding the Ninth Precinct, told Ovación Digital [es] that: “the four people arrested were released. I did not have 20 detainees after the classic rivalry game.” 

According to the Interior Ministry's press release, outlined in Ovación Digital's cited article, there would have been twenty arrests, “fifteen for disorderly conduct, two for assault against police personnel, and three for theft”. 

Additionally, according to Ovación Digital, the damage done to the Amsterdam and Colombes stands are such that repairs might not be completed by the date of the the next championship match on Saturday, November 30.

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