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November 25, 2015

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Massive brawl sets the tone for violent Mexican soccer event at Sam Boyd Stadium


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Metro officers carry a Chivas fan off the field after he was beaten nearly unconscious by Club America fans after El Super Clasico soccer game Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Updated Wednesday, July 3, 2013 | 11:45 p.m.

El Super Clasico - Chivas Fan Beaten

A Chivas fan lies motionless on the field after being beaten nearly unconscious by Club America fans after El Super Clasico soccer game Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Launch slideshow »

Soccer Fans at El Super Clasico

Fights break out on the field after El Super Clasico soccer game between Chivas and Club America Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Launch slideshow »

Chivas vs. America Fan Brawl

Metro Police officers talk to an injured fan after a fight between fans of Chivas Guadalajara and Club America before El Super Clasico soccer game at Sam Boyd Stadium, Wednesday, July 3, 2013. Witnesses said 150-200 people were involved in the altercation. Launch slideshow »

Chivas Defeats Club America

Narciso Mina, left, (7) of Club America and Kristian Alvarez, left, (3) of Chivas Guadalajara jump to head a ball during El Super Clasico soccer game at Sam Boyd Stadium Wednesday July 3, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Guadalajara v. America by the Numbers

  • 1906: The year Club Deportivo Guadalajara (Sports Club of Guadalajara) was founded
  • 1916: The year Club de Futbol America (America Soccer Club) was founded
  • 08-01-1943: Date of the first meeting between the two teams, a 1-0 victory for Guadalajara
  • 174: The number of official meetings (not including exhibition matches) between the two teams. America holds the slightest advantage with a record of 63 wins, 62 losses and 54 ties
  • 0: The number of times either team has been relegated to the Mexican second division, the only two teams in the Mexican soccer leagues to have never suffered the dishonor
  • 11: The number of Mexican league championship titles held by each team; they are tied for the most championships by any Mexican soccer team

The brawl was only the beginning.

Less than an hour before Mexican soccer rivals Chivas and Club America met in their El Super Clasico exhibition game Wednesday in Las Vegas, hundreds of Club America fans met a Chivas bus entering the Sam Boyd Stadium parking lot. Rocks the size of baseballs flew and bottles were thrown.

Minutes later, dozens of Metro Police cars poured through the stadium's entrance to separate a large group of yellow-clad Club America fans from a crowd of candy-striped Chivas fans who'd joined the fray. Six people were injured, including one Chivas fan whose blood blended with the red-and-white stripes on his jersey.

The parking lot brawl set the tone for a match that ended with fans flooding the field throwing beer bottles at each other and fighting. Metro Police officials said a few people were arrested by the end of the game, but they did not keep an exact tally.

“The focus was the safety of the fans and players and everyone involved in the game,” game promoter Tim Luce Luce said at halftime. “We feel that police took immediate action to be able to come the disturbance and came up with a good plan making sure people get in.”

Played amid a record-setting heat wave, the game's atmosphere was volatile throughout. Chivas and Club America have been rivals since 1943, and fans on both sides came into the match saying they believed the teams would give all-out effort despite the game being an exhibition.

Club America fan Gil Garcia described the rivalry as "deadly."

"We don’t like each other," he said.

That became apparent during the pregame brawl, which left thousands of fans trapped outside the parking lot as police restored order. Fans who were delayed from entering the stadium had to walk from Boulder Highway, and many arrived after the game started. But to adhere to a TV schedule, the game started on time. Luce had no comment on refunds.

El Super Clasico was the first high-profile soccer game to be held in Las Vegas since Real Madrid and Santos Laguna met last August at Sam Boyd Stadium in a peaceful match that drew more than 25,000 fans. That game, along with the excitement surrounding the lead-up to the Chivas-Club America match, fueled hope that Las Vegas might one day become the home of a Major League Soccer franchise. However, the violence on Wednesday night challenged the notion that the city could handle an MLS team.

“The important thing is to see what happens when dust settles,” Luce said at halftime. “We’ll see what happens in first few days in terms of public response and how things are handled.”

The stands took on a party-like atmosphere early in the game, filled with the blare of horns, banging drums and singing. Club America fans let off blue and yellow smoke canisters throughout the match.

“There is so much pressure for everybody,” Club America fan Polo Hernandez said. “We win this game, it proves we are more tough than anyone. You carry it in your heart. Beat Chivas is everything.”

Octavio Garcia watched the game in Club America’s section with a friend. He made light of the risk of mingling with the opposing team.

“They could kill me right now,” he joked before halftime.

But the fun and festivity gave way to ugliness as the game wore on. When a bench-clearing fight broke out between the players, fans cheered. Chivas fans chanted their team name, while Club America fans belted their team anthem. Once Chivas broke the tied game with a goal in the closing minutes, pandemonium broke loose.

Chivas fans blasted off fireworks in the stands; Club America fans tossed half-filled bottles and streamers onto the pitch. Then came the fans. At first one or two ran onto the field and were carried off, but then came a flood of spectators. They threw beer bottles at each other, and at least one was kicked in the face.

According to police scanner traffic, a large crowd in the stands threw objects at officers tending to an injured fan. More officers were called in to deal with the situation.

After the game ended, police carried several bloodied and injured fans off the field.

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