RIO DE JANEIRO — Nearly 100 rampaging Chilean fans busted through a security checkpoint at the Maracana stadium Wednesday, sprinting through a large media room and breaking down walls trying to find a way into the sold-out Spain vs. Chile World Cup match.
The red-shirted supporters, mostly young men, surged through the media center underneath the stands, pushing and shoving their way past journalists and TV crews toward a corridor they apparently thought would lead to the grandstands.
To get to the corridor, the fans broke down a temporary wall in one corner of the room, sending metal lockers crashing to the ground, according to Associated Press journalists. They then rushed back down the corridor in the other direction, sending parts of the same wall crashing down onto media work tables.
Security staff at Maracana — where the World Cup final will be held July 13 — were slow to react to the mass break-in less than an hour before kickoff. They eventually contained the fans in a section of the corridor around 15 minutes after they first broke in.
The Rio de Janeiro state security secretariat, which oversees security forces, said in a statement that 85 fans were detained. Some were marched away in a line by security officials, their arms resting on the shoulders of the people in front of them.
Outside, riot police armed with stun guns forced dozens of the detained fans to walk single-file toward a holding area. There, the Chile supporters chanted and loudly complained about scalpers charging $1,000 a ticket for the game. “I traveled thousands of kilometers to get here!” one fan yelled, while others chanted “FIFA is a mafia! FIFA is a mafia!”
Asked how many guards should have been watching the entry where the Chileans busted through, security guard Diego Goncalves said “about 20.”
“I was the lone guy standing out there,” near the entry to press center, Goncalves said. “All of a sudden they knocked down the fence and just pushed their way through.”
In the joint statement, FIFA and Brazilian World Cup organizers said they “condemn these acts of violence.”
“Ahead of the Spain versus Chile match at the Maracana a group of individuals without tickets violently forced entry into the stadium, breaking fences and overrunning security,” FIFA said in a statement. “They were contained by the security and did not make it to the seats.”
The fans came extremely close to racing down a corridor that leads onto the field. But they apparently didn’t know how close they were and came back toward the media room.
There, security guards eventually gained control of the situation, waving their hands frantically and ordering the Chile supporters to sit down in a large group before leading them away. Many fans covered their face with scarves containing Chile’s logo as they were photographed and filmed by journalists.
After the fans broke in, security was beefed up, with long lines of heavily armed military police standing watch as thousands of fans lined up to get inside the stadium.
Rio de Janeiro state’s security secretariat, which oversees police, said that because of the “aggressive and orchestrated” behavior of the Chilean fans, FIFA asked police for help in controlling the situation and detaining the fans. An investigation into the case is underway.
AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray contributed to this report.