Crowd riot halts Argentine match

BUENOS AIRES - Rioting fans forced an Argentine first division match between provincial teams Godoy Cruz and San Martin-Tucuman to be abandoned in the second half.

Referee Diego Abal called Thursday's match off in the 63rd minute after police fired rubber bullets at the supporters in Mendoza, the first time a first division match has been suspended because of violence in the 2008/09 season.

"The head of the police force said he could not guarantee safety as there was a very bad confrontation outside," Abal told reporters in an interview broadcast on television. "The game had to be suspended."

The score was 1-1 at the time.

Argentine media said the trouble stemmed from a previous meeting between the two sides in Tucuman when visiting Godoy Cruz fans were attacked.

They said Thursday's trouble began when Godoy Cruz fans attempted to invade the area designated for the San Martin supporters in an attempt to extract revenge.

Argentine football suffers from chronic violence often blamed on organised supporters' groups called barras bravas.

Many groups are split into factions who sometimes fight amongst themselves and often side with club directors in internal political disputes.