Football: Football stadiums become battle grounds in Argentina while drugs are the problem in Ukraine

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The Independent Online

Never the most peaceful country on the footballing map, recent footballing violence in has shocked even the hardened locals.

Two matches were suspended last weekend while the first leg of the Conmebol Cup final in Buenos Aires the previous Thursday ended with a pitched battle between players from a local side, Lanus, and the visiting Brazilians from Atletico Mineiro.

Lanus lost 4-1 at home to Atletico in the equivalent of Europe's Uefa Cup. A fight between the former captain, Oscar Ruggeri of Lanus, and Atletico's Jorginho quickly spread to involve nearly all the players on the field, plus both team's benches.

Some fans began punching an Atletico player through the fence around the pitch when he became trapped against it. Atletico's coach, Leao, a former Brazilian international goalkeeper, returned home with a broken jaw - in which he had 14 screws inserted in an operation this week.

Leao, under doctor's orders to keep his face out of the sun, resumed command of the Atletico team on Wednesday wearing a Panama hat and hiding under the shade of a huge umbrella. An interesting second leg against Lanus is in prospect on 26 November.

Last Saturday Boca Juniors' match away to Rosario Central was abandoned in the 68th minute as missiles rained down on to the pitch. Boca were leading 3-0 when the referee, Javier Castrilli, who described the fans' behaviour as "attempted murder" in his match report, called off the game.

The following day a Second Division derby in the city of Cordoba was abandoned when fans, using an advertising hoarding as a bridge to cross the moat around the pitch, invaded the field. A hundred people were arrested and 12 policemen were injured.


Ukraine's football federation, acting swiftly ahead of today's World Cup play-off against Croatia, barred the midfielder Sergei Nahornyak from all football for two years on Thursday for failing a drugs test after the first leg.

A federation statement blamed the incident on the chief doctor of Nayornyak's club side, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, and gave him a lifetime ban from the Ukrainian League.

Nahornyak failed a routine test for the masking agent Bromantan after Ukraine lost 2-0 in Zagreb on 29 October. He had already been dropped from the squad for the return game in Kiev. It was the first positive test in a World Cup game since Diego Maradona's at USA '94.