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December 19, 2014

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Ray Brewer: From the Pressbox

from the press box:

When fans noticed poor security, they went back to cars to bring in liquor bottles to soccer game

Las Vegas deserves another chance at big-time soccer, but only if lessons are learned from Wednesday’s disaster

Image

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

A Club America fan jumps down from the stands to deliver a final kick in the head to a Chivas fan after El Super Clasico soccer game 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 »

It would have been a knee-jerk reaction to write what I was feeling Wednesday night when leaving Sam Boyd Stadium.

After all, most of us witnessing the chaos before and after an exhibition soccer game between heated Mexican rivals felt cheated. Some of us also felt threatened.

The America-Chivas game was supposed to be a springboard to bigger and better soccer events in Las Vegas, but turned out to be an absolute disaster thanks to idiotic actions from a few groups of fans. They might have ruined any chance of big-time soccer returning.

I would have never written this last night: The group of fans responsible for a pregame and postgame fights that sent at least 10 to the hospital and forced the game to end prematurely isn't a good indication of the Hispanic soccer community in Las Vegas.

Lost in the fights and other unacceptable behavior were the fans who attended the game for the right reasons. Their passion for soccer is unquestioned and, when directed properly, creates a great game-day environment. They sung, chanted, waved flags and had good, clean fun.

There were fathers and sons, families and non-Hispanic fans. That’s the group of people lost in the aftermath — they deserve more opportunities locally to enjoy the world’s most popular game.

But before there are even talks to try this again — yes, I said it, again — security needs to be immediately addressed. If Las Vegas wants to be considered a major league town, we can’t have rookie-level security crews and strategies.

While Wednesday night’s mess is a black eye that won’t soon go away, it might have been the best thing that could happen for Las Vegas in its mission to lure marquee events to our community. Officials needs to use this as a blueprint on how to handle enormous crowds.

A pregame fight in the parking lot involving about 100 fans sent at least six to the hospital and put other innocent fans at risk; a postgame fight spilled onto the field, forcing officials to stop the game with minutes remaining.

If a fan runs onto the field at Sam Boyd during a UNLV football game, the rent-a-cop security guards bring down the usual shirtless and drunken fan within seconds. They love getting the chance to tackle someone into the turf, or at least it looks that way.

But when four fans trickled onto the field Wednesday after Chivas scored the game’s lone goal with about four minutes to play, nobody tried to stop them. They shook hands with players in starting a nasty trend. Soon, more than 100 were on the field and the game was quickly called. One fan got his head kicked in; others had bottles tossed in their direction.

And, get this: With about five minutes remaining in the game, fans sitting near the top of the west part of the stadium set off fireworks. Yes, fans got fireworks into the stadium. I was going to write, fans managed to get fireworks into the stadium, then received a phone call from Vince Garate, a member of U.S. soccer fan club American Outlaws.

As he explains, the security was a joke.

“There was no pat-down or metal detectors to get into the game,” Garate said. “Just show your ticket and you get in. So I walked back to my car and got three glass bottles of liquor, put them in my pocket and walked right back in.”

He wasn’t the only one.

“Sam Boyd Stadium is to blame for everything that happened. Even the people behind me noticed and brought in bottles of beer without being searched.”

There’s no excuse for that lack of security entering a venue, especially months after the Boston Marathon bombing. I assumed thorough searching of belongings before entering a stadium was the norm. That lack of planning put thousands of innocent people in harm's way, especially Chivas midfielder Giovani Casillas. After scoring the winning goal, he had to dodge bottles flying onto the field from the stands. I wonder how fans got bottles to throw?

We’re lucky the night only included a few trips to the hospital — it could have been worse.

Click to enlarge photo

A bloodied soccer fan is led off the field by a UNLV policeman after El Super Clasico soccer game Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at Sam Boyd Stadium.

The on-field security provided wasn’t from professionals, it was game-day workers with little training. They were given a yellow shirt, and judging by the events of the night, few directions. Moving forward, organizers need to realize the crowd expected to attend their events — America-Chivas is one of sports' ugliest rivalries, and their fans hate each other. They likely have little remorse for fighting and would do it again if they could.

Maybe organizers should have reached out to Herculez Gomez, the Mexican-American who grew up playing in Las Vegas youth league and is one of top strikers in Mexico professional soccer. He’s also part of the United States national team.

“Can happen when people (promoters) don’t take the correct measures to ensure public safety,” he tweeted. “Maybe some homework on the teams you bring … and the fans they attract … No excuse for the idiots that caused the ruckus and ruined it for the rest. These people don’t belong in the game.”

But how do we keep them out? Or under control?

That’s a challenge promoters will have in bringing mega-events back to our town. Don’t let what happened Wednesday curb your enthusiasm for soccer — it could thrive in our town if done right. If done safely.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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  1. Apparently this is a no-win situation. If the security is too tight, there's a cry of discrimination.

    With that being said, some people attending the game willfully and purposefully broke the law. Bringing in items they KNOW to be prohibited! I am surprised there weren't any guns or knives used in the fights. And, what about those being treated at the hospitals? Will those bills be paid by the taxpayers? Are these individuals insured? Are they even in this country legally?

    There are too many issues involved to permit such an enormous ethnic game of intense "hate" towards rivals. Las Vegas has its share of illegals, gangs, and troubles associated with Mexicans, much to everyone's misfortune. There appears to be less assimilation into the American way of life, and more emphasis of staying loyal to Mexico and its culture and traditions.

    My parents immigrated, but they would not even speak their native language to us, the children. They wanted us to excel at school and fit into the American way of life. Their English was broken and far from perfect, but it became my first language.

    We learned all about our heritage, our culture and traditions within our family and so we had the best of BOTH worlds. America is supposed to be the "melting" pot of all peoples seeking to become Americans.

    This country has LAWS - immigration laws on down to the local laws concerning attendance to a sporting event. When you are willing to break the law, and do so en masse, there is no amount of security that can change the mindset of the offenders.

    There's no respect for America by so many people willing to break the laws, and still expect to be embraced and "understood" by the American society. The leaders of the Mexican community must assume responsibility for changing the attitudes of their people.

    Due to the large numbers of Hispanics, America is being FORCED to give and bend to their demands for producing information in Spanish. Providing ESL classes at taxpayer's expense. Learning to accept their culture, even if it means gangs and violence living among us.This is wrong. It's not American. It's forcing a country to become YOUR country, instead of YOU becoming citizens of America.

    If you want to kill one another, rent the stadium and have the brawls of your life. Gang against gang, rivals against rivals. Invite your friends and families to watch. Do so at your OWN expense, and care for your wounded and dead on your OWN dime. Get as lawless as you want in a secured arena, with all of the security on the outside so no one can get out until you are all done tearing each other apart.

    This is not directed to the MANY law abiding citizens of Mexican origin.It is directed to the LARGE faction of violent offenders, lawbreakers, and those refusing assimilation.

    It's sad that America's birthday has been tarnished by such an egregious display of unAmerican activity.

  2. This has nothing to do with race of the fans that attended the game. Do you not watch European soccer matches?

    I've attended 2 soccer games in the last 3 years at Sam Boyd stadium. One Mexico national team exhibition vs. Venezuela, and one MLS game between Chivas USA and Colorado. Other than trash getting thrown on the field at the Mexico national game after a ref carded a player, there were no major issues.

    To say because one event went wrong that Las Vegas shouldn't have "professional" anything is absolutely ridiculous and irrational.

    This mishap was simply due from lack of security and planning. This can happen anywhere at any sporting event, whether it's UNLV vs. Nevada Reno or between the Dodgers and the Giants at Dodger Stadium, especially when security and lack of background knowledge on the rivalry of the two teams is this low.

  3. I can't believe that people are shocked about this kind of behavior. It's a soccer game , watch any soccer tournament on TV and you see the same thing. Keep soccer out of Vegas , let L.A. have it.

  4. And all along I thought it was a bunch of Norwegian gangs fighting. Who'd have known they were Mexicans? Sure took me by surprise.

  5. Any promoter who brings a game into a stadium, MUST adhere to the security needs of the Arena or Stadium deal. To blame it on the promoter - sure - he could have demanded more knowing how bad the Mexican fans can be. But, to not taking on extra costs for a game that did not sell tickets as well as everyone was made to expect - the guy could not add more expenses.

    A big part of the blame has to be on the Sam Boyd
    staff who did not do their homework. They SHOULD have demanded more security at this game. Clearly they did not do their homework - either. How many people want to point out this fact?

    In regards to all of these comments about the MLS coming to Las Vegas and this hurting Las Vegas.

    1. The MLS is expanding into NYC next with a 2nd team, with Miami & Orlando being looked at next. St Louis, San Diego, San Antonio, Atlanta and Charlotte are all in front of Las Vegas even being considered. So enough with Promoters and uneducated Sports Reporters buying into MLS coming to Vegas - it just is no where on the radar.

    2. Where is Las Vegas in hosting any games for the Gold Cup or any US National Game of any kind? It is not a part of the conversation = period.

    3. Real Madrid game priced out tickets to such crazy prices - $80 a ticket for the cheapest ones. Sorry - they never sold out. Mexican rivalry game - that had plenty of open red seats.

    Las Vegas is not a mature soccer market yet. But, to not have Sam Boyd (who holds the keys to the Stadium - not a promoter) ask harder questions about security. When all one had to do is see the Mexico vs Costa Rica game at Azteca where they had security and still threw coins, cups, beer bottles, water bottles at Bryan Ruiz of Costa Rica while taking a corner kick - the game had to be stopped. Oh yeah - this was going to be a mello crowd?? Come on.

  6. La gente esta muy loca!!!

  7. It's amazing how many racists post here flipping out about a soccer riot. Do you racists get that bent out of shape when the Brits, Irish or German hooligans riot?

    Yes people, we still have a race problem in these United State because of knuckle walking Neanderthals who refuse to grow as human beings.

  8. Several "fans" attending this "sporting" event, admitted to breaking the law and going to their cars to bring in bottles of booze, when they noticed the security was lax.

    Let me put it another way: Because there are no police on the street in front of my home, I can go back into my home, bring out a weapon and start firing at my neighbors. (It's not MY FAULT).

    Or, how about this: Because the security is lax at the department store, I can shoplift because I can get away with it. (It's not MY FAULT).

    Choosing to BREAK a law, just because you are pretty sure you can get away with it, IS A STUPID DISGUSTING EXCUSE.

    Having a moral compass, or knowing right from wrong and still choosing to do wrong, just because no one is watching IS the exact attitude that is destroying this country.

    People feel entitled to do what they want to do, and given the opportunity to willfully BREAK THE LAW, is not their fault if their is no one to stop them but themselves.

    DISGUSTING

    So, we do need BIG BROTHER??? We do need to be supervised 24/7 by drones, cameras, and armed guards? You can't have it both way people!