July 20, 2007
Chile is seeing redRuckus erupts on, off pitch
By MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media
With blood trickling down their angry faces, a number of screaming Chilean players were seen being handcuffed by Toronto police after a nasty brawl outside National Soccer Stadium last night.
So much for the so-called "Beautiful Game."
On a steamy sweaty night along the shores of Lake Ontario, ugliness both on and off the field left an embarrassing blotch on what had been a well-run, pristine under-20 World Cup tournament.
In a perfect world, local soccer fans should be spending today discussing Sunday's highly-anticipated final between five-time champion Argentina and the upstart Czech Republic.
Instead the topic du jour will be about "The Brouhaha at BMO."
With Chilean tempers already boiling at some questionable officiating in their just-completed 3-0 semi-final loss to rival Argentina, chaos reigned supreme in the area of the Chile team bus, which was parked just outside the stadium.
According to witnesses, police used a stun gun on a member of the Chilean delegation as players were trickling onto the team bus, leading to a rukus featuring broken glass and pepper spray.
"All of a sudden, we looked over and there was a big brawl that breaks out between four or five people," recounted Canadian Press photographer Nathan Denette. "Next thing you know the bus just unloads and there are eight, 10 players coming off the bus and there's fists flying everywhere between the cops, the security guards ... a couple of ladies were involved that were security.
"It looked like a big dogfight. People throwing fists and cops with their billyclubs out and then, all of a sudden, it got out of control and a police officer grabbed his taser gun and tasered someone."
A number of Chilean players who were already on the bus immediately opened windows and began peppering police with debris.
The entire Chilean team eventually was escorted by police to a room inside the stadium, where it was detained with the entire Chilean delegation.
FIFA spokesman John Schumacher said early this morning that "all players have been released to the Chilean delegation," adding that no arrests had been made.
FIFA will continue to investigate the incident. Asked if Chile still would play in the third-place game Sunday versus Austria, Schumacher offered a "no comment."
The incident is a wart on what to this point had been a successful event.
In fact, it was announced during the game that the 2007 tournament in Canada has set the record for the highest cumulative attendance in U-20 World Cup history.
Tempers snapped in the first half when Chile's Gary Medel was red-carded by German referee Wolfgang Stark for a run-in with an Argentine player. With the Argentines flopping all over the pitch for the remainder of the game, the majority of calls went against Chile.
"We expected such (tactics) from Argentina because they play like that," Chile's Dagoberto Currimilla said."
When a second Chile player was sent off late in the game, a livid Chile fan ran on to the field after Stark and needed to be restrained.
At the conclusion of the game, Stark, surrounded by police and security officers, waited for several minutes to leave the field in order to avoid being pelted with garbage by bitter Chile supporters.