Thugs fool futsal in biggest brawl of year

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April 1st, 2008. On the All Fool’s Day, Santos bamboozled Bolivia’s San Jose at Vila Belmiro in the Copa Libertadores, drawing chuckles from a tickled crowd.

The beautiful 7-0 trick came up just short of the record 1962 Santos 9-1 rout over Cerro Porteño, and showed there’s something really special with Mauricio “Mao” Molina’s left foot – the Colombian netted four beauties.

But less than 100 km from there, in São Bernardo, where Palmeiras and Corinthians futsal teams decided the São Paulo championship, their torcidas organizadas – a horde of thugs dressed as football fans – regrettable chose to fool sport by engaging in the ugliest brawl of the year so far in Brazil.

On the court, it was all going fine, despite the club’s historical rivalry. The game was tied at half time – Dengue opened the score for Corinthians and Ligeiro tied for Palmeiras – when the jackasses decided to steal the show. The full, raw 8 minute battle is here

It was a fight of two halves – against the police, the real fans and themselves. At first, they fought the enforcers, bringing horror to the families who were there to watch the match, and entered the pitch, breaking the reserves’ bench and stealing all they could to use as weapons against the enemies.

Minutes later, the police sprayed tear gas against the bullies, and the situation seemed to have gone stable. Players and fans were leaving the building when another fight broke, this time between Palmeiras ultras on the court and Corinthians organizadas on the galleries.

Chairs and rocks started to fly over again, many of them threw by the policemen – who, unprepared for the situation, used tables as shields.

Most of the cops at the scene were from the Metropolitan Police, that don’t carry guns and use only sticks as weapons. When the elite troopers finally arrived, the brawlers were already gone. Believe it or not, no one was arrested.

Palmeiras and Corinthians now will play the second half of the decision in another venue yet to be determined. Only one thing is sure, according to Gilberto Rodrigues, vice-president of the State Futsal Federation: gates will be closed.

“Brazilian futsal didn’t deserve that.” Nor the fans, the biggest victims of the thugs’ bad joke.