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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 19, 2006

Racing match called off after bus blockade

BUENOS AIRES, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Argentina's soccer crisis took a new twist on Sunday when fans of Racing Club and San Lorenzo blocked the respective team buses and forced the match between the two sides to be called off.

The fans, who jumped up and down in celebration on hearing that the match had been postponed, were angry at a decision to order the Buenos Aires derby to be played behind closed doors in La Plata, 60 kilometres away.

'The game was called off,' said referee Daniel Gimenez as he entered the stadium in La Plata.

'The AFA (Argentine Football Association) has just informed me that there's no game for the reasons we're all aware of.'

The decision sparked rumours that the rest of the day's fixtures could also be postponed but these later proved to be unfounded.

An estimated 50 Racing fans gathered outside the team's hotel in Buenos Aires and stood in front of the team bus, chanting 'they're not playing without the fans.'

Almost at the same time, San Lorenzo fans chained the doors at the team's headquarters where the players were staying and stopped their team's bus from departing.

The Buenos Aires provincial government last week ordered the match to be played without supporters as a response to the violence and intimidation - including alleged death threats - which has plagued Argentine football since the season began in August.

Last week, rioting Racing fans caused their team's derby away to Independiente to be called off in the 64th minute, the third match to be stopped by crowd trouble since the championship started in August.

Another three games, including Sunday's, have been called off at the last minute.

In addition, the Gimnasia-Boca Juniors match on Sept 10. was abandoned at halftime after the referee claimed he had been threatened in his dressing-room by the Gimnasia president.

The remaining 45 minutes were played 10 days ago when Gimnasia, leading 1-0 before the re-start, conceded four goals and lost 4-1.

The following day, public prosecutors ordered an investigation into allegations that the Gimnasia players had received death threats from their own supporters, who demanded they throw the game.

The fans wanted to help Boca, the championship leaders, pull clear of Estudiantes, who are Gimnasia's bitter rivals.

Last week, the AFA banned away fans from attending first division matches for the rest of the year in an attempt to halt the crisis.

On Friday, representatives of the players met and considered refusing to play at the weekend, a proposal which was eventually turned down.