RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Seven players were sent off after a ferocious brawl sparked by a goal celebration in a Brazilian match.
The fight held up play for a quarter of an hour at the end of Thursday night’s game between Brasil and Ulbra in the Rio Grande do Sul championship, one of the regional tournaments which kick off the Brazilian season.
Brasil president Elder Lopes was also involved.
Television pictures showed that trouble broke out when Rogerio Pereira scored the final goal in Ulbra’s 5-2 away win and went to celebrate in front of the Brasil supporters.
Pereira was attacked by several Brasil players, leading to a fight near the corner flag in which players punched and kicked each other and tripped over the advertising hoardings.
Several players were seen to kick or punch rivals from behind, then run off.
Reserve players and team officials also joined in while riot police moved onto the field but kept out of the fighting.
At one stage, Brasil president Lopes ran onto the field and was seen aiming a kick at a player.
Brasil were involved in a tragedy in January when three of their players were killed in an accident involving the team bus.
Their early matches in the tournament were postponed and they have taken only three points from eight matches.
“I tried to calm our players so that we did not suffer more serious consequences,” said Lopes.
“We are already being penalised by what happened and we can’t afford to lose more players through injury or suspension.” The referee sent off four players from Brasil and three from Ulbra.
Brawls often break out in Brazilian matches when players are offended by goal celebrations or believe that their opponents are trying to humiliate them with fancy tricks.
Writing by Brian Homewood in Buenos Aires; editing by Miles Evans