It's 1925, it's Christmas Day... fancy a Copa America final?

The FIFA World Cup in Qatar was unique (for many reasons I won’t go into here) but one particular reason was when it took place, from 20th November–18th December. Unique for a FIFA World Cup anyway. Back in 1925, the South American Championship (now better known as the Copa América) was held during a similar period, starting on 29th November and ending on Christmas Day. The competition only had 3 participants—Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay—and the final between Brazil and Argentina was a violent affair:

Victory for Brazil would force a tiebreak, and they took the lead after the legendary Arthur Friedenreich opened the scoring after 27 minutes. Three minutes later, Nilo doubled the Selecao’s (sic) lead.

The locals were not impressed, and tensions in the game began to rise when Argentinian defender Muttis put in a tough tackle on Friedenreich. A fight broke out, and fans rushed onto the pitch to join the punch-up.

The police were forced to intervene and protect the visiting Selecao from their irate hosts. After a ten-minute delay, the tension cooled, at least on the field. In the stands, it had not and the atmosphere became increasingly hostile. Cerroti pulled one back for Argentina five minutes before the break. Ten minutes into the second-half, Seoane hit the equaliser that gave Argentina the title.

The final whistle brought victory for Argentina, but that certainly didn’t change the mood in the stands. Some have claimed that stones rained down on the departing Brazilians. It has been claimed that Brazil’s collapse was a direct result of the intimidation from the terraces, that they genuinely feared for their wellbeing, even more so if they had gone on to win. Brazil defender Floriano’s later admission that the team had spent the eve of the game enjoying the city’s nightlife may offer another alternative reason.

What is it about football, conflicts, and Christmas Day?

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