FIFA has opened an official investigation into the events that occurred at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, ahead of the 2026 World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina. The investigation will focus on the assaults of Brazilian police officers on visiting Argentine fans, which resulted in several injuries.
The incident took place on September 22, 2023, when Brazil hosted Argentina in a crucial qualifying match. Argentina emerged victorious with a 1-0 victory thanks to a goal from Nicolas Otamendi. However, the match was marred by violence outside the stadium, where Brazilian police officers clashed with Argentine fans.
The situation escalated to the point where the start of the game was delayed by 30 minutes as authorities attempted to restore order. Even Argentina's star player, Lionel Messi, had to intervene, guiding his teammates back to the dressing room to avoid further confrontation.
FIFA has launched an investigation into this incident
This incident has drawn significant criticism from the international soccer community, with many calling for FIFA to take action against the Brazilian soccer federation (CBF).
FIFA has responded by opening an investigation into the matter, and potential punishments for the CBF could include fines, matches played behind closed doors, or even a deduction of points. Such a penalty would be a major blow for Brazil, who currently sit in sixth place in the qualifying table, just one spot above the playoff position.
With the old World Cup format, which allocated only four direct qualification slots for South America, Brazil would already be in serious danger of missing out on the tournament. However, the expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams has provided South America with six direct qualification slots, along with an additional spot in the intercontinental playoff.
This means that Brazil still has a chance to qualify for the World Cup, but the potential punishment from FIFA could make their task even more challenging. The investigation into the events at the Maracana is ongoing, and FIFA is expected to announce its findings in the coming weeks. The outcome of the investigation could have a significant impact on Brazil's World Cup hopes.