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FIFA condemns Brazil violence

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

SAO PAULO - As disturbing images of fans hitting each other are shown across Brazil, soccer's governing body is downplaying the risk of violence inside stadiums during the World Cup.

FIFA condemned the mayhem in the southern city of Joinville, where fan fighting halted a decisive Brazilian league match for more than an hour on Sunday.

Four people were hospitalised, including one person who was airlifted from the field.

"This is very sad for Brazilian football," FIFA said in a statement.

"FIFA and the local organising committee condemn any form of violence and such incidents should not happen in any football stadium."

The violence came only two days after FIFA held the draw for the 2014 World Cup at a a resort in northeastern Brazil.

Hundreds of fans from Atletico Paranaense and Vasco da Gama charged each other in Joinville, throwing kicks and punches while armed with sticks and metal bars.

The fighting forced the referee to stop the match about 17 minutes into the first half.

Security in Joinville was handled by private guards instead of police, similarly planned for the World Cup.

Only stewards are in charge of fan safety inside stadiums during FIFA events, with authorities usually in charge of security outside the venues.

Sunday's fighting stopped only after police arrived, firing rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

FIFA said it could not comment on what happened in Joinville because it was not involved in the match, but noted it is confident with its World Cup security plans.