Uruguayan game called off amid security concerns

Posted at 03/31/2014 7:24 PM

MONTEVIDEO - Uruguay's Football Association (AUF) on Sunday called off the first division match between Penarol and Miramar at the players' request amid security concerns at the legendary Centenario stadium.

Uruguayan president Jose Mujica ordered police to withdraw from the country's two main stadiums -- the Centenario and the Parque Central -- in the wake of violence between fans and security forces.

A joint statement issued by the Uruguayan Professional Footballers Association and stadium personnel said that they had "not been given the security conditions" and would not participate in the match.

Mujica's measure comes after incidents marred Nacional's meeting with Argentine side Newell's Old Boys on Wednesday night in the Copa Libertadores, South America's leading club competition.

At the end of the game, which Newell's won 4-2, a group of home fans clashed with police, causing significant damage to the Centenario.

There were 40 arrests and dozens of police and fans were injured, while more than 700 seats were ripped out, but the manner of the police response is as much at the heart of the issue as the concern at the hooliganism.

The move plunges the local football in a crisis just months ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, for which former winners Uruguay have qualified.

Other top-flight league fixtures planned for this weekend were set to go ahead.

In January 2013, football in Uruguay was suspended for 10 days following incidents at a friendly between Penarol and Nacional, who together dominate the domestic game.

In January, a Uruguayan court banned nine Nacional and Penarol players from attending or participating in games for 60 days after a fight in a friendly game.

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