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Prospects, squad players make their case

By ESPN Staff

Independiente v Racing Club halted by violence

BUENOS AIRES, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Rioting fans caused the derby between Independiente and Racing Club to be abandoned in the 64th minute on Sunday, the fourth first division match to be interrupted since the Argentine season began in August.

Referee Horacio Elizondo stopped play as police, firing rubber bullets and using tear gas, clashed with Racing fans on the terraces. Independiente were leading 2-0.

Three of the abandoned matches were halted by crowd violence while the fourth, between Gimansia-La Plata and leaders Boca Juniors, was stopped at halftime because the referee said he had been threatened in his dressing-room by the home club.

That match, which began on September 10, was completed on Wednesday when Boca Juniors, trailing 1-0 when play was stopped, scored four times in 45 minutes to win 4-1.

On Thursday, public prosecutors said they would investigate allegations that Gimnasia's players had received death threats from their own fans demanding they lose the game.

Trouble broke out at Independiente's Libertadores de America stadium shortly after Daniel Montenegro had converted a 52nd- minute penalty, his second goal of the game, to put Independiente 2-0 ahead.

Racing fans began hurling missiles across the fence which separated them from rival supporters.

The police intervened and, although play continued for 10 minutes, Elizondo was forced to stop the game as tear-gas floated across the field.

Elizondo, who refereed the World Cup final between France and Italy, consulted the police before sending the players to the dressing-rooms.

'We tried to carry on but we couldn't,' Elizondo told Argentine television. 'The head of the police operation was worried by the situation.'

The previous four matches to be interrupted were all completed at later dates, a policy which has brought criticism of the Argentina Football Association (AFA).

Critics say the situation will not improve until teams are penalised for the behaviour of their fans by having points deducted.

The situation worsened with the midweek Gimnasia-Boca episode.

Prosecutors are investigating media reports that a group of armed Gimnasia fans threatened the team at their headquarters on the eve of the game and told them to lose.

The fans argued that a Gimnasia win would benefit their bitter rivals Estudiantes, who are challenging Boca for the title. Gimnasia's players are due to be interviewed by prosecutors on Monday.

At the top of the table, Boca stayed four points clear of Estudiantes with three matches to play after both teams won.

Boca beat bottom-of-the-table Quilmes 3-1 on Sunday while Estudiantes beat third-placed River Plate by the same score on Saturday to chalk up their eighth win in a row.

The defeat effectively ended River's title hopes as they dropped seven points behind Boca.

River Plate coach Daniel Passarella called for the championship to be stopped after Saturday's game.

'This championship is a disgrace,' said the former Argentina captain and coach.

'I would have said this whatever the result today....River lost the title on Wednesday.'

'I said one month ago that the championship was not serious and time will prove me right. We lost the championship in the boardroom.'