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Negligence Charged As Fans Crushed

February 6, 2001

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ Police accused Vasco da Gama president Eurico Miranda and two other club officials with recklessness and criminal negligence in connection with a stadium accident that left 168 fans injured.

If indicted and convicted, they each could face up to one year in prison. Miranda, who is a federal congressman, cannot be tried without special permission by the Chamber of Deputies.

In a report published Tuesday, police chief Jose Torres do Nascimento of Rio’s 17th precinct said Miranda and former team president Antonio Soares Calcada were responsible for the overcrowding of Sao Januario Stadium during the Dec. 30 Brazilian championship between Vasco and Sao Caetano.

In the 23rd minute, a fight in the stands triggered a human avalanche that pushed hundreds of spectators against a fence, which collapsed. The game was suspended and scores of people taken to hospitals, although none was seriously injured.

Criminal investigators determined the stadium had a maximum seated capacity of 20,435, rising to 27,306 if all spectators were standing, Torres said. But Vasco officials sold or gave away 32,537 tickets, and some fans said they paid ticket takers to sneak in.

Vasco vice president Jose de Lima was charged with negligence for the poor maintenance of the fence, Torres said. The police report said that ``a simple visual examination of the fence would reveal its poor conservation.″

Vasco officials did not immediately respond to the charges.

A Senate probe into Brazilian soccer last week questioned Miranda why a $110,000 to the team following the last FIFA Club World Championship last year was endorsed by him but never showed up in the club’s accounts.

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