Darwin Nunez, Uruguay teammates enter stands as fans fight after Copa America loss to Colombia

Thu, Jul 11, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Darwin Nunez, Uruguay teammates enter stands as fans fight after Copa America loss to Colombia

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Darwin Nunez and about a dozen Uruguay teammates went into the stands as fans brawled at Bank of America Stadium following a 1-0 loss to Colombia in a Copa America semifinal on Wednesday night.

After a physical and contentious match, a melee broke out behind the Uruguay bench after Mexican referee Cesar Ramos' final whistle.

The crowd of 70,644 was about 90% in favor in Colombia, but a small patch of Uruguay fans fought with Colombia supporters as beverages were thrown.

Nunez and teammates then climbed a staircase into the crowd. A video showed Nunez hitting a fan in Colombian team colors.

Uruguay captain Jose Gimenez said players went in the crowd to protect their families.

"This is a disaster. Our family is in danger. We had to get into the stands to take out our loved ones with small babies, newborns," he told TUDN. "Everything was a disaster. There was not a single police officer."

It took more than 10 minutes for police to arrive on the scene and to restore order. The public address announcer asked for fans to leave the stadium, but several supporters remained.

About 100 Uruguayan fans and and members of the federation staff remained on the field for their own protection more than 20 minutes after the game, while Colombia fans made their way out to celebrate.

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CONMEBOL released a statement after the game saying that it strongly condemns any act of violence that affects the game.

"Our work is based on the conviction that soccer connects and unites us through its positive values," the organization said. "There is no place for intolerance and violence on and off the field. We invite everyone in the remaining days to pour all of their passion into cheering on their national teams and having an unforgettable party."

Uruguay coach Marcelo Bielsa said he didn't see what was happening right away.

"There was some argument in the midfield, and when I saw that happening, I went to the locker room. I thought they were thanking the fans for their support," Beilsa said. "But then I learned there were some problems over there unfortunately."

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AP Copa America coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/copa-america

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