MONTEVIDEO - The Uruguayan championship was suspended on Monday after fans fought a vicious battle on the pitch following the top-of-the-table match between Danubio and Nacional at the weekend. "The Executive Committee has decided to suspend, as a preventative measure, the activity in the professional first division until further notice," the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) said in a statement. The trouble erupted after Danubio beat Nacional 1-0 to overtake their opponents and go top of the table on Sunday. Shortly after the final whistle, Nacional fans broke down the fencing at the tiny Jardines del Hipodromo stadium and invaded the pitch. At one point, they managed to snatch a Danubio flag from home fans, who were enraged and also invaded the field. A pitched battle followed in which rival fans attacked each other with iron bars and used the corner flags as weapons. Despite the trouble, no arrests or injuries were reported. Danubio president Arturo del Campo said he agreed with the AUF's decision. "I think it's the first measure we needed to take before looking for solutions for the problem," he told the Sport890 radio station. The championship was also suspended for several weeks in 2006 after a Cerro fan was stabbed to death in front of his wife and children by supporters of rivals Penarol near the Centenario stadium. Uruguay won the 1930 and 1950 World Cups but, due to economic problems and a small population, have been unable to keep their status as a major power. Although the country still produces an impressive number of players for export, there has been a dramatic decline at domestic level. Many first division games are played in stadiums which resemble European non-league grounds and in front of tiny crowds.
17 November 2008
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