RIO DE JANEIRO – The commotion started about an hour before Chile and Spain were scheduled to resume their World Cup bids.
First, there were a handful of fans wearing Chilean jerseys inside the media center at the Maracana Stadium. They walked fast. They looked confused. It’s not like we were able to interview them, but if I had to guess, I’d say they were trying to sneak or storm into the stadium and ended up in here — 40 feet from where I'm typing this — instead.
Now, bursting inside a press center filled with a few thousand international journalists is probably not the best way to avoid attention. Instead, many cell phones were whipped out. Pictures were taken. Video filmed. I saw at least three shoving matches between reporters jockeying for position.
Chilean fans storm media center at the Maracana
Sports Illustrated's Greg Bishop captures the aftermath of Chilean soccer fans storming the World Cup media center in Brazil.
Hundreds of them stood on the tables previously used for writing or posting or checking Facebook. Portable walls between the media center and the stadium corridors were knocked down. Some landed on top of flat-screen televisions, which also tipped. Some of those televisions were damaged.
For maybe 30 minutes, it was bedlam. Security wrestled some of the Chilean fans to the ground, and then surrounded them as fans leaned up against the corridor wall. The media swarmed, as the media tends to. Officials tried to push everyone back. Security attempted to form a wall so as to cut down on available angles. I saw some officials get unnecessarily pushy with the journalists. They looked nervous and scared and that made me wonder just how in control they were of this situation.
At one point, as I walked toward the madness at the other end, maybe 40 journalists came running toward me. Then I felt real panic deep inside my stomach. It was like this was Pamplona, and I had stepped into The Running of the Hacks.
A few hours earlier, my colleague, photographer/bodyguard Simon Bruty, and I had walked around the stadium. There were some small protests but nothing out of the ordinary. Mostly, police — who had a heavy presence here — took pictures with fans outside the stadium. There were hundreds of Chilean fans outside. They were drinking and chanting and singing and that was all around 11 a.m. The commotion kicked off around 3:00 p.m.
There was no information immediately available as to what entrance the fans stormed through, or went through, or how many there were. A reporter friend of mine said he saw hundreds of fans going through the metal detectors at the media entrance, basically pushing their way through.
Just another day in Brazil for the World Cup.