Argentina fans arrested for alleged racist chanting
Two Argentine fans were arrested for chanting racist insults at Brazilians inside the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro yesterday, local police said.
Local media reported that the pair were making monkey gestures and calling Brazilian supporters "little monkeys" during Argentina's 2-1 victory over Bosnia in World Cup Group F.
The arrests come just months after Brazilian footballer Dani Alves caused a media storm by eating a banana thrown at him by a Villareal fan while playing for Barcelona in Spain.
The video of Alves nonchalantly peeling and eating the banana, then taking a corner, went viral. As did the tweet from Brazilian team mate Neymar, which showed the striker holding a banana alongside his son with the hashtag "we are all monkeys".
The tweet set off a fully-fledged anti-racism campaign, with 100,000 people using the hashtag in the following days.
"Two Argentine tourists were allegedly shouting racist insults at Brazilians. They were taken to the police station where they were interviewed and released. The investigation is ongoing," the civil police for Rio de Janeiro said in a statement sent to Reuters.
Brazilian daily Estadao reported that an elderly Brazilian father and his son reported the abuse to military police outside the stadium. Police suspect the Argentines might have been part of a small group that had broken into the stadium by scaling a wall, a moment captured on video by media outlet Globo.
There is a longstanding and tense rivalry between Brazil and Argentina, the two largest countries in South America. Brazil previously said it would beef up security in and outside stadiums where Argentina plays.
On Sunday, Brazil's justice ministry said it had blocked five Argentine soccer hooligans with a record of violence from attending the World Cup. One "brava," as Argentine hooligans are known, was also deported shortly after landing in Sao Paulo last week.
The two national sides are among the favorites to lift the World Cup trophy and could meet in the final in Rio de Janeiro on July 13.