Fireworks, phone calls bother Argentina before Brazil semi

July 2, 2019

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Fireworks were ignited in the early-morning hours Tuesday near the hotel where Argentina players are staying for their Copa América semifinal against host Brazil.

Three waves of fireworks were heard after 1:15 a.m. close to the team hotel in central Belo Horizonte.

Argentine media outlets also reported that unsolicited wake-up calls were made to players' apartments at 6:30 a.m.

Asked by The Associated Press about the incidents, staff members of the Radisson Blu Savassi hotel said they couldn't provide information on their guests.

Dirty tricks intended to disrupt players' sleep are common in South America before key matches in World Cup qualifying and the Copa Libertadores.

Brazilian teams playing in Argentina have also had similar experiences.

On Monday, Brazil coach Tite told reporters he wants to win "with loyalty" and that "there can't be trickery" involved in the clash.

"Soccer transcends a few things, like the educational aspect. It doesn't solve social problems, but it has an educative intent," the coach said.

Brazilian fans also troubled the sleep of the Argentines with fireworks before the November 2016 World Cup qualifier in Belo Horizonte, where the hosts won 3-0.

The winner of the superclásico later Tuesday at Mineirão Stadium will face Chile or Peru in the final on Sunday at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Also on Tuesday, police reported the arrests of 10 touts in a Belo Horizonte shopping mall, including four Ecuadorians, while they sold tickets for the Brazil-Argentina match.

Police said they seized 44 tickets, 11 cell phones and about $2,700 in cash.

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