Las Vegas Sun

May 29, 2015

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El Super Clasico:

After ‘really, really bad day,’ fans fear for future of soccer in Las Vegas

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

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.

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 »

Rowdy fans and massive brawls among Mexican soccer fans at El Super Clasico exhibition match Wednesday night has fans worrying that major clubs may avoid the area in the future.

Fans brawled in a parking lot before the game and on the field after Chivas scored against rival Club America at Sam Boyd Stadium that ended with hundreds of fans on the field. Dozens of people were injured throughout the night, including six in a pregame parking lot fracas.

Their behavior at Las Vegas’ first high-profile soccer match since Real Madrid faced Santos Laguna last August has fans worried that major soccer clubs might see the area as less attractive.

Alvaro Puentes, program director for ESPN Deportes in Las Vegas, said match organizers should take a cue from Mexican stadium security, which has separate entrances for fans of opposing teams and don’t allow glass bottles or other possibly dangerous projectiles into the stadium.

The violence is a bad omen for future soccer matches in Las Vegas, he said.

“This was a really, really bad day for soccer in Las Vegas,” Puentes said. “There is another soccer game coming soon between Morelia and a team from El Salvador and I heard that maybe they will cancel the game because this was so bad.”

Officials expected tension between fans during the match due to the history between the clubs, the size of the crowd and the heat, but blamed the fights mainly on the behavior of unruly fans, stadium manager Mike Newcombe said.

“One thing we can do is prepare,” he said. “We unfortunately can’t control everyone’s behavior.”

Vince Garate, member of U.S. soccer fan club American Outlaws, said fans were constantly trying to push the limits of security. He pointed to the relative calm during breaks in the match and in the stadium’s bathrooms, but once fans began climbing onto the field the situation grew violent.

“I saw no problems in the stands at all until people started jumping on the field, then everyone started losing their minds,” he said.

Garate said the rivalry between the clubs, which he compared to the baseball rivalry between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, led him to believe there would be some conflict, but events escalated far too quickly and dangerously.

“This is a friendly, it shouldn’t have gotten out of hand like that,” he said. “I really hope it doesn’t affect us having another game.”

Sun reporter Tovin Lapan contributed to this story.

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