Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Brawl-happy Brazilian fans slug it out

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SAO PAULO, Brazil -- A key Brazilian league match was stopped for more than an hour after fans started fighting in the stands on Sunday, prompting police to fire rubber bullets to contain the crowd and bring a helicopter onto the field to airlift an injured man to a hospital.

Supporters from Atletico Paranaense and Vasco da Gama charged against each other and it took several moments for police to take control of the situation in the southern city of Joinville. Groups of fans punched and kicked each other several times until police arrived and fired rubber bullets to clear the crowd.

Doctors said three other fans were hospitalized but none of their injuries were life-threatening. The man airlifted from the pitch had a serious head injury but his life also wasn't at risk, according to Hospital Sao Jose.

The match, which restarted after about an hour and 10 minutes, was important for both teams as Atletico Paranaense was trying to secure a spot in next year's Copa Libertadores and Vasco da Gama was hoping to avoid relegation. Atletico Paranaense won 5-1 to reach its goal and demote the Rio de Janeiro club.

Fan violence has been rampant in Brazil this year with several cases of fighting in stadiums across the country, raising concerns ahead of the World Cup.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 9, 2013 C5

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