SAO PAULO (AP) — Fans attacked Peruvian striker Paolo Guerrero after invading Corinthians training center in protest against the Brazilian team's recent struggles, the club's president said Sunday.
Mario Gobbi said the protest turned violent and fans grabbed the striker by his neck. He said other club employees also were attacked during Saturday's confrontation after about 100 fans broke into the training center demanding to talk to players and coaches. They were not seriously injured.
The training center in Sao Paulo will be used by Iran's national team during the World Cup in a few months. Corinthians' stadium, the Itaquerao, will host the tournament's opener between Brazil and Croatia on June 12.
Gobbi confirmed to Radio Jovem Pan on Sunday that Guerrero was attacked.
"They tried to strangle the player who scored the most important goal in team history, we didn't deserve this," he said.
Guerrero scored the winner against Chelsea in the Club World Cup final in 2012.
In a statement posted on its website Corinthians repudiated the "act of vandalism" at the training center and said it tried to postpone Sunday's match against Ponte Preta in the Sao Paulo state championship to "preserve and protect everyone."
It said the players didn't want to play but the match would go on because "several commitments" had already been made with television rights holders and the local football federation.