By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A group of fans of Paulista club Corinthians invaded the club’s training center, verbally and physically abusing some members of the playing staff this past weekend. The incident raised fears of player safety during the FIFA World Cup, to be held from June 12th – July 13th.
Over one hundred supporters stormed the training facility, CT Joaquim Grava, in protest over poor results prior to Sunday’s state championship game against Ponte Preta. The club have won just two matches in the Campeonato Paulista and sit next to bottom in their group.
Fans cut through a wire mesh fence surrounding the training pitch to confront players and coaching staff. The incident left some of the squad “terrified,” according to newspaper O Globo.
Corinthians president Mário Gobbi criticized the actions of those responsible and denied links to factions of supporter groups. The club have passed CCTV footage to the police and are planning to prosecute anyone identified.
Peruvian striker Paolo Guerrero, who scored the winning goal when Corinthians beat Chelsea in the final of the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup, was one of the players targeted. Brazil international forward Alexandre Pato, who became the club’s most expensive signing when he joined the club last year, and Emerson Sheik, who scored twice in the 2012 Copa Libertadores final, were also threatened.
Following the attack, Guerrero refused to enter the field to take on Ponte Preta but later changed his mind. Corinthians went on to lose the game 2-1 as the club descends into crisis mode.
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.