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Uruguay Team Says Lack of Security Led to Clash at Copa América — ‘Our Family is in Danger’

Lead Photo: CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JULY 10: Fans of Colombia fight with fans and players of Uruguay after the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 semifinal match between Uruguay and Colombia at Bank of America Stadium on July 10, 2024 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JULY 10: Fans of Colombia fight with fans and players of Uruguay after the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 semifinal match between Uruguay and Colombia at Bank of America Stadium on July 10, 2024 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
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The semifinal match between Uruguay and Colombia got ugly on the field, and then it got ugly off the field.

Colombia’s Daniel Muñoz got a red card early in the second half, which left his team with 10 players for half the game, and both teams played physical fútbol throughout the entire semifinal. But once the game was over, the altercations made their way to the stands, with Uruguayan players clashing with Colombian fans.

“This is a disaster. Our family is in danger. We had to get on the top of the stands ASAP to rescue our loved ones with newborn babies. It was a disaster, there wasn’t a single policeman, and officers only showed up after thirty minutes,” Uruguay’s captain José María Giménez said after the match. 

Uruguayan Fútbol Association president Ignacio Alonso echoed the captains statement and told reporters that, “Uruguay’s players had an instinctive reaction that is natural, which is to defend and protect the children who were in that area of the stadium and were suffering attacks on the women, on the parents, on the closest family members, siblings. And it’s a father’s reaction that is intuitively natural and was very rational given the events that surrounded them.

Multiple videos showed Uruguayan players, among them Liverpool star Darwin Núñez throwing punches in the stands after being alerted by family. 

“There was some argument in the midfield, and when I saw that happening, I went to the locker room. I thought they were thanking fans for their support, but then I learned there were some problems, unfortunately,” Uruguayan coach Marcelo Bielsa said. 

Afterward Núñez could be seen comforting his children on the field.

CONMEBOL, the organization that governs fútbol in the region, released a statement on the night of July 10 condemning the violence.

“CONMEBOL strongly condemns any act of violence that affects football. 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,” the statement read. “We invite everyone in the remaining days to pour all their passion into cheering on their national teams and having an unforgettable party.” 

Uruguay is set to face Canada in the third-place match, which will take place on Saturday, July 13th. Colombia and Argentina will face off for the Copa América title on Sunday, July 14th. Both games will be played at 8 PM ET.