FIFA Chief Gianni Infantino condemned the violent clashes that marred Brazil's World Cup qualifier against Argentina, saying that there is no place for such behaviour in football.
"There's no place in football for this kind of violence, on or off the pitch," Infantino said in an Instagram post. "Players, fans, teams and officials deserve a secure environment."
The clashes occurred in the stands of Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium during the national anthems, with Brazilian police confronting Argentina fans. Tempers flared and officers used batons to try to restore order.
Argentina players, including superstar Lionel Messi, tried to intervene and plead for calm, but the situation escalated further. Argentina goalkeeper Emi Martinez even attempted to jump into the seating area to confront a baton-wielding police officer.
The Argentine players eventually retreated to their dressing room, with Messi reportedly saying, "We're not playing, we're leaving."
"We went to the locker room because it was a way to calm everything down a little," Messi said. "We went to see how our families and people close to us were doing. And then we came back."
However, they later returned to the field and went on to win the match 1-0, courtesy of a goal from Nicolas Otamendi. The victory saw Argentina maintain their position atop the South American qualifying standings with 15 points from six games.
Brazil, meanwhile, suffered their third defeat of the qualifying campaign and slipped to sixth place with seven points from six games.
Infantino's statement echoed the sentiments of many in the football community who are concerned about the growing incidence of fan violence and safety issues in the sport.