By Jacob Parry
This weekend’s Superclasico between River Plate and Boca Juniors was filled with late drama, as six players received red cards and an on-field brawl broke out involving stars from both teams. The game, which ended with River winning 1-0, was a closely contested battle between two great Argentinian rivals. Tempers flared after River was awarded a penalty in the dying seconds of injury time, which Miguel Borja converted to secure the win for his team.
Following Borja’s goal, Boca’s former Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero was seen sprinting towards the opposition players, triggering a scuffle involving more than 20 players. Security staff and officials tried to intervene, but the brawl resulted in the dismissal of six players, three from each team, including two of River’s substitutes. Boca boss Jorge Almiron was also sent off.
Referee Dario Herrera had already given out nine yellow cards during the game, but the brawl prompted further disciplinary action. River’s Agustin Lamela, Elias Gomez, and Ezequiel Centurion were dismissed, as were Boca trio Nicolas Valentini, Miguel Serrano, and Ezequial Fernandez, along with manager Almiron.
After the game, Romero expressed his doubts about the penalty call and accused River of unsportsmanlike behaviour. “The penalty play is very doubtful. I asked the referee if it was a penalty,” he said. “He tells me that it was clear. I told him that I had the VAR to consult, and at no time did he consult it. Seeing the play, it is not a penalty. It is a normal play in a game where there is friction, and it should never have been charged.”
Romero also pointed out River’s Agustin Palavecino celebrating in the face of Boca’s Nicolas Figal, claiming that he and his teammates saw a side of River that wasn’t present under the team’s former coach, Marcelo Gallardo. “In previous years, they had achieved something that was very important, which was that they respect you for everything, not only because you have a good team or win a title, but because you have behaviour inside and off the field of play. It was missed today,” Romero said.
Despite the drama, River celebrated their victory, securing their position as league leaders in a fixture that has had plenty of disciplinary drama in the past while Boca are left to rue missed chances as they still try to find some form with the reigning champions currently languishing in 13th.
Argentinian football violence has been a persistent issue in the country for many years. Matches often see heated tensions boil over, resulting in on-field brawls and violent clashes between fans outside the stadium. The causes of this violence are complex, ranging from intense team rivalries, social and economic disparities, and political tensions. Despite efforts to curb the violence by the Argentine government and the AFA (Argentine Football Association), including stadium bans and increased police presence, incidents of football-related violence continue to occur in Argentina, posing a threat to the safety of players and fans alike.
Image Credit: Daniel Jayo / Stringe