RIO DE JANEIRO: Vasco da Gama won the Carioca (Rio de Janeiro state) championship on Sunday in a final marred by 78 fouls and three red cards, including one for their coach Antonio Lopes after he threw the ball at an injured player and sparked a ten-minute brawl.
The incidents capped a chaotic weekend for Brazilian football, where Saturday's Paulista (Sao Paulo state) final had gone ahead even though there was no method for settling the two-leg game in the case of an aggregate draw.
Sunday's clash in Rio de Janeiro – where Vasco beat Fluminense 2-1 to complete a 4-2 aggregate win in the two-leg tie – erupted five minutes before halftime.
Lopes, a former police detective and technical director in Brazil's victorious World Cup squad last year, threw the ball at rival player Alex Oliveira.
Oliveira was on the ground after a rough, late tackle from a Vasco player.
Lopes, wearing his lucky outfit of a yellow shirt meaning “success” and white trousers meaning “peace”, then lashed out at Fluminense coach Renato Portaluppi, who had gone over to remonstrate about the incident.
This sparked a brawl which involved players, officials, police, cameramen, radio reporters and other people who were also on the field. Lopes was also seen to push another member of the Fluminense staff.
Lopes, egged on by Vasco president Eurico Miranda, at first refused to leave the touchline area, finally agreeing to go early in the second half to watch the game from a radio commentary box.
He was replaced on the touchline by Vasco's assistant coach – his own son, Antonio Lopes Junior.
Shortly before the brawl started, Vasco forward Marcelinho Carioca and Fluminense midfielder Marcinho had been dismissed after both players were awarded second yellow cards for fighting.
The confusion came during a game which was interrupted by 78 fouls – eight more than in Wednesday's first-leg.
Despite the violence, Vasco celebrated their title by unfurling a banner with the words “Jesus, this victory is yours” and Marcelinho returned to the field for the lap of honour with a headband also sporting the word “Jesus.”
Vasco took a second-minute lead when Leo Lima scored from a rebound, ending a move which started when a Fluminense pass hit the referee's head.
Fluminense then had what appeared to be a legitimate goal disallowed for pushing and equalised with a goal scored by Ademilson, who seemed to be in an offside position when he tapped the ball home.
Vasco striker Souza scored the winner midway through the second half.