BUENOS AIRES - Arsenal's Argentine championship match at home to Aldosivi was abandoned after half an hour because of fighting among fans that spilled into clashes with police on Monday.
The score was 1-0 to the visitors after a 23rd-minute goal by midfielder Diego Lagos. The Argentine FA will set a new date for the remaining 60 minutes to be played.
Trouble started outside the Julio H Grondona ground in the suburb of Sarandi when rivals factions of Arsenal fans fought each other then clashed with police trying to stop the violence, media reported.
Rubber bullets were fired and stones thrown in the surrounding streets and fans took their fight onto the terraces, La Nacion said on its website (www.lanacion.com.ar).
"The police can't give me guarantees (that there won't be more trouble), so I'm going to have to suspend the match," referee Ariel Penel told broadcasters Futbol Para Todos on the pitch shortly after halting play.
Miguel Angel Scime, head of the AFA Referees College, told Reuters that referees have the power to abandon matches if they deem it necessary in cases of violence.
"Article 162 of the AFA's statutes says the referee has the absolute legal authority to suspend the match if he so decides after consulting the participants," Scime said referring to teams and security forces.
Two prior incidents of violence this season did not result in matches being abandoned.
"The referee could have suspended the match in which the coach (Gustavo) Alfaro of Tigre was hit in Rosario. The law supports him," Scime said.
Alfaro was hit by an object thrown from the stands at Rosario Central but after several minutes told the referee he could carry on with the match.
Linesman Juan Pablo Belatti was hit by a bottle thrown from the crowd at San Lorenzo last month but he told the referee that he felt all right to carry on.
More recently, referee German Delfino was hit and winded by a roll of paper thrown from the stands at Atletico Rafaela but he decided he could resume play after recovering from the blow.
"This example is enough for us to get together and take measures once and for all... If something is thrown at you, whether you're hurt or not, you can't carry on," said Federico Beligoy, the general secretary of the Argentine Referees Association.
Referees have called for heavier punishments than ordering clubs to play their next home match behind closed doors as happened to San Lorenzo and Godoy Cruz at the weekend.
"The four legs of the table, the AFA, the players and the two referees unions, should get together to analyse what's going and seek a solution," Scime said.