This past Saturday, towards the end of a U-19 match between Uruguayan clubs Platense and Basáñez, two referees were attacked by a group of around 20 spectators and players. In response to this act of violence and others like it, the Uruguayan soccer federation decided to suspend all play throughout the country.
The video above shows some footage of the incident. According to Ovación, the referees who were beaten up are Carlos Roca, a man, and Anahí Fernández, a woman. Fernández was working the match as a line judge while Roca, her boyfriend according to reports, was in the stands watching.
Near the match’s closing moments, the head referee showed two red cards, each team losing one player. At this point, a kid in the stands, reportedly around the age of 10, began throwing rocks onto the pitch. Roca called down to an adult working for Platense to notify him of the kid’s behavior in an effort to get the kid to stop. Instead, the rock throwing boy’s father began to insult and then attack Roca, leading others to join in on the beating.
While Roca was being kicked and punch by the mob of spectators, Fernández ran off the pitch and over to Roca to break up the fight. When that wasn’t possible, she attempted to shield Roca with her own body. Rather than stop, the assailants continued to strike both Roca and Fernández. Here’s another angle of the fight:
Both Roca and Fernández received medical treatment for their injuries, but neither were seriously harmed.
The first to respond to the incident was Uruguay’s referees association, which announced that it “had suspended all activity for all disciplines and levels for Sunday,” citing the unfortunate regularity with which Uruguayan soccer matches—especially lower level and youth ones—devolve into violence that often targets referees. In response, the Uruguayan soccer federation suspended all matches in the country, which included postponing a handful of first division matches.
The president of Platense has expressed his regret for how things played out and stated that 12 players who the club had discovered were involved in the fight had been kicked off the team. Basáñez’s president has contested the accuracy of the official account of the incident, but has still repudiated the violence and ousted at least one player involved from the club.