Stadium closed after 100 injured

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The Independent Online

Brazilian football officials were under fire yesterday following a stadium accident which left around 100 people injured and forced the cancellation of Saturday's second leg of the João Havelange Cup final midway through the first half.

Brazilian football officials were under fire yesterday following a stadium accident which left around 100 people injured and forced the cancellation of Saturday's second leg of the João Havelange Cup final midway through the first half.

The Rio state government announced that a police inquiry would be launched to determine "the causes and those responsible" and that Vasco da Gama's São Januario stadium, the scene of the accident, had been closed indefinitely.

"Football shame", "Disgrace" and "Embarrassment" were among the headlines chosen by Brazilian newspapers yesterday to describe the incident during the second leg between Vasco and São Caetano, which was goalless when play was halted.

Among other things, they lambasted the Vasco team who, on hearing the match had been abandoned, picked up the trophy and completed a lap of honour while the injured were still being taken to hospital. A 0-0 draw would have given Vasco victory on away goals after a 1-1 draw in the first leg.

Supporters who had been inside the stadium believed it was filled beyond its 33,000 capacity, with estimates putting the the attendance at 40,000. The state governor Anthony Garotinho, who took the decision to call off the game and overruled football and police officials who wanted to carry on, criticised Vasco, saying they should have staged the game at the larger Maracana stadium.

Play was halted in the 21st minute after a fence behind one of the goals collapsed under the weight of hundreds of fans, who pushed forward to escape fighting further up in the terrace. A decision is due tomorrow on whether the match will be replayed. The winners of the final will be declared Brazil's national champions.

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