Sports News

Police arrest 16 planning to invade Maracana stadium

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - At least 16 Flamengo fans were arrested on Tuesday after police in Rio de Janeiro targeted groups they said were planning to invade the Maracana stadium to watch the second leg of the Copa Libertadores semi-final between the Rio club and rivals Gremio.

“The investigation pointed towards a gang that was exchanging audio and video messages on a social media to plan the invasion,” the Rio police said in a statement. “Among the information gathered were threats to kill police, rob, cause damage and harass Gremio fans.”

Officials issued 27 arrest warrants and 89 restraining orders and detained 16 people, the police said.

Wednesday night’s match at the Maracana was sold out as Flamengo aim to reach the final of South America’s equivalent of the Champions League for the first time since 1981. The first leg was drawn 1-1.

Unbeaten in 17 games, the Rio side are favourites to reach the final and face either Boca Juniors or River Plate, both based in Buenos Aires in Argentina, who meet in their second leg on Tuesday.

Reporting by Andrew Downie, additional reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Editing by Hugh Lawson