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Uruguay forward Darwin Núñez (19) engages with hostile fans in the stands after the CONMEBOL Copa America semifinal between Uruguay and Colombia on Wednesday July 10, 2024 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC.
Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Copa América Semifinal Ended With Uruguay Players Fighting Colombia Fans

Colombia advanced to the Copa América final by defeating Uruguay, 1-0, despite playing a man down for the whole second half in Wednesday night's semifinal. The game was your typical CONMEBOL affair, in that there was a lot of fouling and physical play, some odd refereeing, a relatively early red card, and by the end of it everyone was pissed off. The postgame anger initially manifested in its usual way, with the players doing some shoving and barking on the field, but then things took a turn. Suddenly, a bunch of Uruguay players, including stars Darwin Núñez and José María Giménez, were in the stands fighting with Colombia fans.

Giménez, Uruguay's captain, spoke to the media after the melee had been contained, and said that the players had gone into that particular section of the stands to prevent their family members from being menaced by Colombia fans. “It’s a total disaster. There wasn’t a single police officer. They showed up half an hour later. A disaster. And we were there, standing up for ourselves, for our loved ones," Giménez said. "Hopefully, organizers take a little more precautions with our families, with the people and those around the stadiums. Because this happens every game. Our families are suffering because of some people who have a few drinks and don’t know how to drink, who act like children."

Uruguay forward Luis Suárez, who was in the middle of a lot of the on-field ruckus with Colombia's players and staff, also defended his teammates' decision to go into the stands. "No one wants to see those images, but obviously if you see that a family member is being attacked, you try and defend them. It does not justify what happened, but you have to realize they were trying to protect their families and their children," he said.

The head of Uruguay's soccer federation gave a statement in support of the national team players, and CONMEBOL released a statement that not only didn't address the organizational concerns brought up by Giménez and others, but urged everyone to just forget the whole thing and get on with the party. “CONMEBOL strongly condemns any act of violence that affects football,” the statement said. “Our work is based on the conviction that soccer connects and unites us through its positive values. There is no place for intolerance and violence on and off the field. We invite everyone in the remaining days to pour all their passion into cheering on their national teams and having an unforgettable party.”

Is it wise to respond to an ugly incident of fan-on-player violence by instructing fans to party even harder at the next game? We'll find out on Sunday night.

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