Severe penalties for players’ attack: Conmebol

Rio de Janeiro, April 5 (IANS) South American football’s governing body Conmebol has vowed to issue “severe” penalties after a Copa Libertadores match ended with a violent confrontation between players and armed riot police.

The standoff occurred Wednesday after the final whistle of Atletico Mineiro’s 5-2 victory over Argentina’s Arsenal de Sarandi in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte, reports Xinhua.

A group of players from the visiting side vented their anger at a cordon of armed police, who had formed a protective barrier around the match officials. After being kicked and struck with objects, police responded by aiming rubber bullet guns at the Arsenal players.

Conmebol secretary general Jose Luis Meiszner condemned the actions.

“What they did is unforgivable and it must not be repeated. The penalties applied to the clubs at the tribunals will be well publicised so that everybody knows that this is a very serious matter,” Meiszner said Thursday.

A policewoman and journalist were reportedly injured in the clashes while Arsenal players are said to have destroyed the visitors’ dressing room at the Arena Independencia after the match.

Eight Arsenal players were held in police custody Wednesday night and released on Thursday morning after paying a fine of $15,000.

Atletico Mineiro, who were inspired by a two-goal effort from former Barcelona idol Ronaldinho, are top of their group with five wins from as many matches while Arsenal de Sarandi are third with just one win and a draw.

The Copa Libertadores, considered the continent’s most prestigious club competition, features the best teams from South America and Mexico.

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