Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets late Sunday to restrain a group of vandals who disturbed a peaceful rally celebrating Argentina's gutsy performance in a 1-0 loss to Germany in the World Cup finals.
Parents with small children could be seen fleeing in fear after police, who initially remained on the sidelines as jubilant fans poured into downtown Buenos Aires, began chasing down the vandals on motorcycles. The youths, many of them with their faces covered and drinking heavily, responded by hurling rocks, destroying store fronts and even breaking into a theater.
Police said 15 officers were injured and at least 40 people were arrested.
The chaotic situation marred what was an otherwise spontaneous show of support for Argentina's national team after its best World Cup run in 24 years.
The center of festivities was the city's iconic Obelisk, where fans traditionally gather to celebrate victory, not defeat. Cars honked staccato rhythms, firecrackers were tossed into the air and fans of all ages jumped in place shouting “Argentina! Argentina! Argentina!” with barely a tear in sight.
“We have nothing to regret, we played first rate,” said 53-year-old Horacio Laseiras, carrying his six-year-old daughter on his shoulders.
Despite the pride over their team's performance, many Argentines couldn't hide the pain.
In Rio de Janeiro, more than 70,000 Argentina fans cheered on their team, many having traveled upward of 40 hours by car and seemingly all wearing their team's sky-blue jerseys and chanting day and night.
“This was a trauma. We were going to be able to leave singing songs in victory with the glory of the Cup,” said Joao Cuenca, who has an Argentine father and a Brazilian mother. “What happened is nothing short of a disaster.”
By contrast, there were no reports of violence in the streets of Berlin as Germany fans celebrated in the streets hours after the country's fourth World Cup title.
German supporters, packed into the “fan mile” in front of the German capital's famous Brandenburg Gate, screamed when Germany scored the game's go-ahead goal in the 113th minute.
The sound of blasting car horns and fans whooping and yelling were common in Berlin before and after the game.
After Germany's win, a massive fireworks display took place near Brandenburg Gate, where fans had begun gathering six hours before kickoff.