Suárez criticizes Colombia for 'ugly' celebrations


Uruguay striker Luis Suárez slammed Colombia’s “ugly” celebrations after Wednesday’s Copa América semifinal ended in violent scenes as players argued on the pitch and fought with fans in the stands at the Bank of America Stadium.

Colombia forward Miguel Borja celebrated in front of the Uruguay players after the 10-man side sealed a 1-0 victory in Charlotte, North Carolina, setting up a final Sunday with holders Argentina.

Meanwhile, Uruguay’s Darwin Núñez and several teammates climbed into the stands and brawled with supporters before security personnel stepped in to restore order.

“There are always squabbles, jokes or whatever, but what is annoying is the way [Borja] celebrated,” Inter Miami’s Suárez told reporters after the game.

“It makes no sense to celebrate like that. We eliminated Brazil the other day and none of us passed in front of any Brazil player. The opposite. We went to them afterwards because we are colleagues on the pitch and we know what it is like to be knocked out.

“To celebrate in front of a professional colleague like that is ugly … But what goes around comes around.”

As Borja celebrated, some of Uruguay’s players headed to a section of the stadium close to where their families were seated, who Suárez said had objects thrown at them.

“You see your partner, kids, parents … elderly people in the stands and you want to know how they are,” Suárez added.

“Things had started to fall on them. No one wants to see those images, but obviously if you see that a family member is being attacked, you try and defend them. It does not justify what happened, but you have to realise they were trying to protect their families and their children.

“I could see from afar that there were a lot of families and many of my teammates’ children trapped in that section. It’s normal that you feel helpless and want to help when they’re having things thrown at them.”

Videos on social media showed Liverpool forward Núñez at the forefront of the melee exchanging blows with opposition fans.

South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL, which organises the tournament, has since said it is investigating the incident and “strongly condemns any act of violence that affects football.”

Ignacio Alonso, the president of the Uruguayan Football Association, said the players reacted because of the danger posed to their families.

“It was an instinctive, natural reaction to defend their kids, their partners, parents and siblings,” Alonso said.

“There was also some aggression where we were, but what is most worrying is what happened down on the pitch. It was resolved quite quickly in the end, but not without some inconvenience as you all saw.

“We are analysing the images. There doesn’t appear to be anyone with difficulties at the moment and measures were taken to help people receive transport to the appropriate places and assistance provided to those who had panic attacks.

“Now, back in the hotel, we will properly review what happened. There are families in the stands at every tournament. Normally there is a cordon or something similar.”

Jefferson Lerma’s first-half header sealed the win for Colombia, which had to play the entire second half with 10 men after Daniel Muñoz was sent off.

It is the first time they have reached the final since 2001, when they won the competition for the only time in their history. They will face 15-time winners Argentina at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Sunday night.

Uruguay will meet Canada in the third-place game on Saturday at Bank of America Stadium.



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