Violence mars Copa Sudamericana final
Sao Paulo have been crowned Copa Sudamericana champions in controversial circumstances, with on-field violence causing the second leg of the final to be cancelled.
After a 0-0 first leg result in Argentina, Sao Paulo headed into the match as favourites and they gained the ascendency early on when Lucas Moura opened the scoring for the hosts.
It didn't take long for the Brazilian side to extend their lead when Osvaldo found the net in the 28th minute, allowing Sao Paulo to hold out until half-time.
But a first half that resulted in three yellow cards for each side as well as a red card for Sao Paulo defender Paulo Miranda was bound to yield further drama and tensions boiled over after the half-time whistle sounded.
Tigre players allegedly surrounded Lucas at the break and an altercation with Brazilian police ensued. Via their official Twitter account, Tigre stated that their players were assaulted by security officials and they refused to return to the pitch for the remainder of the game.
There were also unconfirmed reports that players from the Argentine side were injured during the clashes, but the match was declared and Sao Paulo were handed the title.
Tigre coach Nestor Gorosito confirmed that security officials entered the visitors' changing rooms and threatened them with weapons, adding to the poor conditions they suffered before the match
"During the break, a big guy came in with a gun. They pulled two revolvers," Gorosito told Fox Sports. "We're not going to play anymore. Police entered and struck our players with sticks. It was crazy, what happened was crazy.
"Some policeman started to hit some of my players. We tried to defend ourselves. We trained two hours away from our hotel, and it took us more than an hour to get to the stadium. We were unable to warm up on the pitch."
Argentine television showed images of blood on the walls of the Tigre dressing room, although no cameras went off the field to record the incident.
Romer Osuna, a Bolivian official with CONMEBOL, said the players were too scared to return to the pitch.
"The Tigre people declined to play because they considered security was not good enough," Osuna told Fox Sports. The referee abandoned the game because it was not right to play on. This decision is final. It is a shame that a continental final finished in this fashion."
Referee Enrique Osses declared Sao Paulo champions, despite acknowledging he heard reports of a disturbance in the dressing rooms.
"We did not see anything, but we have heard some things about what happened," Osses said. "We saw there were some injuries to the Tigre players but I don't know what caused them."
But Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni claims that it was the opposition who instigated the violence with their aggresive play on the field.
"We don't know what happened, but the Tigre players came to Brazil to fight, not to play," he said. "I really don't know what happened in the dressing rooms."