Uruguay players and Colombia fans clash in the stands after the Copa America semi-final

Several Uruguayan players, including Darwin Nunez, clashed with Colombian fans after the Copa America semi-final on Wednesday night.

After the game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, scuffles broke out between fans in the stands and players who entered the area where their families — including children — were in the stadium.

Liverpool forward Nunez was among those involved in the incident, with Barcelona’s Ronald Araujo and Atletico Madrid defender José Maria Gimenez also seen nearby.

There is video footage showing Colombian fans clashing with Uruguayan supporters and players, including throwing cans.

Security personnel then stepped in to intervene before the players, along with some family members, returned to the field.

Players, including Nunez, were visibly shaken by the incident. He was later consoled on the pitch by Liverpool team-mate Luis Diaz and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez.

Gimenez, who was Uruguay’s captain during the match, later told the television broadcast that the players feared for the safety of their families.

“Colombian fans in a certain area attacked all our families,” he said. “They wouldn’t let us speak on the microphone. This is a disaster, our families were in danger. We had to run to the stands to take our loved ones away with little newborn babies.”

An eyewitness spoke to The Athletics reported isolated incidents of disorder between rival fans during the match which were largely brought under control. Police officers were later shown in circulating footage of the incident with the players.

“It’s a total disaster. There was no police officer,” Gimenez claimed. “They came half an hour later. A disaster. And we were there, standing up for ourselves, for our loved ones.”


Darwin Nunez was comforted by Luis Suarez after the incident (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

The match between Brazil and Argentina in November was also marred by similar crowd problems, with players also unhappy about police checks on seats where family members were seated.

“Hopefully the organizers will take some more precautions with our families, with the people, with the people around the stadiums. Because this happens every game,” Gimenez continued.

“Our families are suffering because of some people who have had a few drinks and don’t know how to drink, who are acting like children. Hopefully they will take more precautions for the next game so that this doesn’t happen again because this is a disaster.”

Uruguay lost the match 1-0 and will play the next match for third place in the tournament, in the same stadium, against Canada on Saturday. Colombia will play Argentina in the final in Miami on Sunday.

Uruguay goalkeeper Sergio Rochet said: “It was an ugly moment. It’s not nice to see these problems, especially when your family is only two metres away from you. We are sad to leave the tournament and now we have to deal with this situation.

“From what I saw, they started throwing things. You try to stay away from there, but when you see that it’s your family, little kids, it’s hard.”

“It was clear that it could have been prevented,” he continued. “I think the area where the players’ families are should have been protected by some other form of security, especially knowing that Uruguayan fans were outnumbered by Colombian fans. When you see your family there… all the players were trying to go up and get them out.”

CONMEBOL, the tournament organiser, condemned “any act of violence that affects football”.

A statement said: “Our work is based on the belief that football unites and connects us through its positive values. There is no place for intolerance and violence on and off the pitch.

“We invite everyone to put all their passion into cheering on their national teams for the remaining days and celebrate an unforgettable party.”

The Uruguayan Football Federation (AUF) will analyse the footage of the incident before considering further action.

“The players reacted instinctively to what is natural, which is to defend and protect the children who were in that part of the stands, the women who were attacked, the wives, fathers, children and brothers who were there,” AUF president Ignacio Alonso told reporters.

“It was an instinctive reaction from a father. It was a natural reaction that happened with a lot of logic, given what was happening around them.”

Additional reporting: Felipe Cardenas, Melanie Anzidei

(Top photo: Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

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