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Brazil violence leaves Juninho in shock

Vasco da Gama, four-time Brazilian champions, lost 5-1 to Atletico Paranaense in a match marked by fan violence on Sunday.

Vasco da Gama midfielder Juninho Pernambucano said he was left stunned by the crowd violence that marred the final day of the Brazilian league season and warned local authorities to improve security ahead of the World Cup.

A fan is taken on a stretcher from the stands to a waiting air ambulance.
A fan is taken on a stretcher from the stands to a waiting air ambulance.

A man was evacuated to hospital by a helicopter that landed on the pitch, two other fans were also hospitalised after supporters of Atletico Parananense and Vasco clashed in the stands in Joinville where the match had been moved with Atletico banned from playing home games in their own stadium.

The game -- which Atletico eventually won 5-1 to claim a place in the Copa Libertadores and consigning Vasco to relegation -- was stopped after just 15 minutes and held up for more than an hour before order was restored by riot police firing rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

Former Lyon midfielder Juninho, who was under contract with Vasco this season having left New York Red Bulls but has been out since November with an injury that could lead to the 38-year-old's retirement, said he was horrified by the scenes.

"I don't have any words to describe what I saw on TV," he told RMC."I asked my daughter to leave the room so that she wouldn't see the images. I saw players crying on the pitch and they didn't want to continue with the game.

"Those images are going to remain engraved in the heads of many people who love football. It's really disappointing, and I hope the authorities are going to react because the whole world is going to be waiting for a response. Brazil is going to host the World Cup and has to provide security for everyone."

The clashes in Joinville are the latest in a series of incidents at Brazilian football grounds in the year before the nation hosts the World Cup finals.

A Copa Libertadores qualifying match between Gremio and LDU in January almost ended in tragedy when a safety barrier in one stand of the recently opened Arena do Gremio collapsed, while a month later a 14-year-old fan of Bolivian side San Jose was killed by a flare lit during a Libertadores clash at Corinthians.

Earlier this month, part of the Sao Paulo stadium that will host the 2014 opener collapsed, killing two people and causing significant damage.

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