BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Police with shields marching behind water cannons scattered hundreds of demonstrators outside River Plate's stadium Thursday as they called for the resignation of the football club's president Daniel Passarella and coach Juan Jose Lopez.
The situation surrounding one of Buenos Aires' most famous teams threatens to become more violent as the club faces relegation to the Argentine second division.
River Plate lost 2-0 to second-division club Belgrano on Wednesday, and a failure in the second-leg playoff match Sunday would send the club to the second tier.
The match at Belgrano's stadium was stopped for 20 minutes early in the second half when hooligans ripped through a chain-link fence and shoved and taunted River players on the field. Dozens of invaders when crawled back through the fence, or climbed it - trying to avoid barbed wire at the top.
Violence is endemic in Argentine football.
The country has had 13 football-related deaths in just over a year, and the nonprofit group, Let's Save Football, says 256 people overall have died in football-related violence in the country.
Television and news reports said eight police were injured when they moved on protesters as they tried to enter club offices inside the stadium at northern Buenos Aires.
Interior ministry authorities met Thursday with officials of the Argentina Football Association and decided to allow fans in the stands for the return match against Belgrano. Many had speculated they would be banned.
The AFA said 45,000 River Plate supporters would be allowed into the match with 2,500 from the Belgrano club also admitted.
There may be trouble no matter what. Filling a 50,000-seat stadium for such a match could be dangerous, but shutting out fans could stir even more anger. Early reports said 2,500 police would be deployed inside and around the stadium.
One banner hanging outside the River Plate stadium read: ''Kill or be killed.''
The general manager of the Belgrano club, Armando Perez, said he'd agree to playing with no fans.
''I would accept playing behind closed doors at Monumental,'' he said, referring to the River Plate stadium which also serves as the national stadium. ''The first thing is people's lives. After, it's a football match.''
River Plate has a similar stature to Manchester United in England or Real Madrid in Spain with Argentine fans. It has won 33 league titles - 10 more than any other club - but its performance has been in free fall recently. The club - known by the nickname ''The Millionaires'' - has debts reported at $19 million and has sold off many of its top players to European clubs, hoping to save itself.
The AFA has tried to distance itself from the recurring violence, saying it's caused by rising street crime in the South American country.
Many have placed the blame on AFA President Julio Grondona, who is also the senior vice president of FIFA, the No. 2 to president Sepp Blatter and the chairman of FIFA's finance committee.