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Argentine hooligan who posed as Swiss fan arrested

Reuters | Sunday, Jul 6, 2014

Swiss fans head to the Amazonia Arena in Manaus, Brazil, to attend the FIFA World Cup Group E football match between Honduras and Switzerland on June 25, 2014.

BRASILIA, Brazil - An Argentine hooligan who entered Brazil illegally and appeared at World Cup games disguised as a Swiss fan was arrested on Saturday at the Argentina-Belgium game, Brazilian officials said.

Pablo Alvarez, leader of the fan club of Argentina's Independiente football club, was on a list of 2,000 Argentine fans with a record of violence at football matches who were banned from entering Brazil for the World Cup.

Alvarez defied police by attending Argentina games dressed as a Swiss fan and then posting photos of himself on Facebook, face painted red-and-white and wearing a Switzerland scarf.

Argentine police officers monitoring their country's fans at Saturday's game spotted him with binoculars wearing a shirt of Brazil's most popular football club Flamengo and alerted Brazilian police who arrested him pending deportation to Argentina.

So far 40 Argentine fans with records of hooliganism as members of Argentina's violence-prone "barras bravas" fan clubs have been deported thanks to enhanced police cooperation during the World Cup that has led to the capture of five foreign criminals, Brazil's federal police said.

Some 15,000 Argentina fans watched their team led by star forward Lionel Messi defeat Belgium 1-0 in Brasilia and go through to the semifinals.

After the game, Argentine fans almost came to blows with Brazilian fans who taunted them outside the stadium by chanting that their football legend Pelé was greater than Argentina's idol Diego Maradona. Riot police separated them.

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