Uruguayan players brawl with Colombia fans following Copa America semifinal loss

The second Copa America semifinal took a violent turn Wednesday when Uruguayan players brawled with fans in the stands following their elimination at the hands of Colombia.

Cameras captured several players, led by Uruguay’s Darwin Núñez, walking into the stands at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, and exchanging punches with Colombia fans as security staff tried to hold the players back.

Núñez could be seen throwing several punches. Uruguay defender José María Giménez seemed to throw at least one punch, according to videos verified by NBC News.

In a post-game interview, Giménez said the brawl stemmed from a “certain sector of Colombia fans” who he said “did an avalanche” on the families of Uruguayan players. He called on organizers to take more precautions “because the same thing happens every game.”

“This is a disaster. Our families were in danger,” Giménez said.

Ignacio Alonso, president of the Uruguayan Football Association, told reporters after the game that the Uruguayan players were trying to protect their families.

“Uruguay’s players had an instinctive reaction, which is natural, which is going to defend and protect the children who were on that side of the stands, who were suffering attacks, the women, the parents, the closest family members, siblings,” he said.

In a statement, CONMEBOL, South American soccer’s governing body, said it “strongly condemns any act of violence that affects football.”

“There is no place for intolerance and violence on and off the field,” it added.

The melee followed Uruguay’s 1-0 loss to Colombia in a game in which emotions were already high.

Jefferson Lerma put Colombia ahead in the 39th minute, but compatriot Daniel Muñoz was sent off following a second yellow card after an elbow to Uruguay’s Manuel Ugarte. Despite playing with a man advantage for the entirety of the second half, however, Uruguay was unable to find the equalizer and Colombia walked away with the victory.

Colombia will now play for the championship against Lionel Messi’s Argentina on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Florida. Uruguay, meanwhile, will play for third place Saturday against Canada.

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