A football fan was killed in a fight between rival groups in central Brazil on Sunday, becoming the fourth casualty of fan violence in less than a month.
Authorities said Sunday that 23-year-old Diego Rodrigo Costa de Jesus was shot dead in a confrontation between supporters from Goias and Vila Nova in the central city of Goiania on Saturday.
Two Palmeiras fans were killed last week in a fight in Sao Paulo, and a Guarani supporter died about two weeks ago about 100 kilometers away.
A series of incidents related to fan fighting at the beginning of 2012 had already raised concerns with Brazil hosting the 2014 World Cup. Fan violence had appeared to be mostly under control in the past few years but the recent surge has left authorities scrambling to find solutions for the change.
Sunday’s death happened in the same city where four Goias fans were wounded by gunshots in January. Police said de Jesus, also a Goias supporter, was killed after being shot in the back.
Authorities said the fight in which he was involved began when the rival groups ran into each other at a public park in Goiania. A Vila Nova fan reportedly was armed and started shooting, and de Jesus was hit while trying to run away. Police said de Jesus has a disability in one of his legs and was not able to flee with his colleagues.
Police also said de Jesus had been previously detained as a suspect of drug traffic and armed robbery.
Authorities detained seven people accused of participating in the fight on Saturday evening, but it wasn’t clear if the suspected shooter was among those in custody.
Last Tuesday, 19-year-old Palmeiras supporter Guilherme Vinicius Jovanelli Moreira was declared brain dead after injuries sustained in a fight involving nearly 500 people just before a match between Palmeiras and Corinthians on March 25.
A day earlier, 21-year-old Palmeiras fan Andre Alves was buried after dying from a shot in the head in the same confrontation, which also left a 23-year-old shot in the hip a 17-year-old hospitalized with head injuries.
Police closed the headquarters of fan groups from Corinthians and Palmeiras and detained a few people suspected in participating in the fight. The fan groups also were prohibited from attending matches.
There hadn’t been a death linked to fan violence in Brazil since early last year, when a Corinthians supporter was killed after reportedly being ambushed by Palmeiras fans. Police believe last weekend’s fight came in retaliation for that death.
About two weeks ago, a 28-year-old fan of small club Guarani died from head injuries after fighting with Ponte Preta supporters in the city of Campinas.
Fan groups from the top Sao Paulo state clubs – Palmeiras, Corinthians, Sao Paulo and Santos – have been involved in several incidents before matches this year, but there have been recent problems in other parts of the country too.
In addition to the four Goias fans wounded in a shooting in January, other four were shot after a fight that left 80 people detained in Rio de Janeiro late last year, and there were also confrontations between rival groups in the northeastern state of Bahia.
Another death related to fan violence in Brazil occurred in November 2010, when a 19-year-old Cruzeiro fan was repeatedly beaten with iron bars during a brawl between dozens of rival fans in Belo Horizonte.
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