River Plate players taken to hospital after match against rivals Boca Juniors is abandoned after 'tear gas attack'

Four River players were taken to hospital in Buenos Aires after being temporarily blinded in the players' tunnel

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The Independent Football

The Argentinian derby between Boca Juniors and River Plate was abandoned on Thursday night after players were sprayed with what appeared to be tear gas.

The first-half ended 0-0 between the fierce rivals, who were meeting for the third time in the space of 12 days, with River Plate winning the Copa Libertadores first leg 1-0 last week.

When the players emerged for the second half through a makeshift tunnel, they could be seen trying to shield their eyes and using their shirts to protect their faces, and the game was held up for over an hours before officially being suspended.

"My whole body hurts," said River midfielder Leonardo Ponzio said. "They threw — I'm not sure what it was — pepper spray at us. This just can't be."

 

According to reports in Argentina, four River players were taken to hospital and having their vision impaired, and a section of the Boca fans are being blamed for the attack.

"It's sad," said River head coach Marcelo Gallardo repeatedly. "It's unbelievable what happened."

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Television pictures show a fan appearing to slide his hand in-between the flexible tunnel which the players use to enter the pitch, where it’s suggested he released an irritant that was responsible for temporarily blinding the players.

Police soon formed a barrier for the players while they joined the officials on the La Mombonera Stadium pitch for over an hour. Around half of the 50,000 crowd in attendance left quickly after the incident, although a proportion of hardcore fans remained until the game had been called off.

Violence and football in Argentina has a long and overshadowing history, but despite the Argentine Football Association being criticised for doing little to stem the violence, they have claimed it's a societal problem.

It is not clear when the match will be resumed or replayed.

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