After contentious Copa América semifinal loss, Uruguay players brawl with fans

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Anger and violence spilled from the field to the stands Wednesday night in the aftermath of Colombia’s 1-0 victory over Uruguay in the Copa América semifinals at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

The postgame scrum — which included Darwin Núñez and about a dozen of his Uruguayan teammates in the stands, scuffling with fans while beer was being thrown — followed a tense, physical match that included seven yellow cards and one red. After the whistle, players scuffled at midfield. Tensions then moved to the sideline, then up a stairway and into the crowd.

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.

Uruguay team captain José María Giménez said in a postgame interview that the players were trying to protect their family in the stands.

“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 said on the broadcast. “Everything was a disaster. There was not a single police officer. They showed up half an hour later. …

“Our families are suffering because of some people who have a few drinks and don’t know how to drink, who act like children.”

Security personnel eventually forced their way through the crowd to separate the players and end the brawl. Conmebol, the governing body that organizes the Copa, said it is investigating the incident.

Colombia, which scored the game’s only goal on Jefferson Lerma’s header in the 39th minute, held on despite playing the entire second half with 10 men after Daniel Muñoz was sent off during first-half stoppage time.

The game’s physicality only increased over the second 45 minutes.

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.”

Uruguay’s team will remain in Charlotte to face Canada in the third-place game Saturday.

Colombia will face Lionel Messi and Argentina in the final Sunday evening in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. Colombia won the tournament once, in 2001.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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