Six sent off in Brazilian final farce

RIO DE JANEIRO - The final of a Brazilian regional tournament ended in chaos when the match was abandoned because one team was left with six players and both sides completed laps of honour, claiming to have won the title. The match between Rio Branco, who needed a draw to win the Espirito Santo state championship, and Sao Mateus had six players sent off and was twice interrupted by punch-ups, the second of which halted play for more than 20 minutes. Brazil's disciplinary tribunal said on Sunday it would investigate the possibility that Rio Branco's players had feigned injured to get the game abandoned. It said the final ruling on the outcome of Saturday's game would be based on the referee's report. Trouble broke out when Sao Mateus defender Luciano Baiano was sent off in the 19th minute for pushing the Rio Branco doctor who had come on to the field to treat a player. A melee resulted, holding up play for six minutes. Tempers flared again early in the second half, leading to a free-for-all involving players, substitutes and officials from both teams which halted play for 25 minutes. At the end, two players from Sao Mateus and three from Rio Branco were dismissed, leaving both teams with eight men. Sao Mateus, who trailed 2-0 in the first half, equalised almost immediately but two Rio Branco players went off injured in quick succession, leaving the team, who had made three substitutions, with six, below the minimum number. After the game was stopped, both teams completed a lap of honour while fighting broke out in the 5,000 crowd. The Brazilian season kicks off with championships in each of the 27 states.