A post-game altercation between fans and players following a Copa America 2024 semifinal matchup has left the tournament with a black eye. Colombia outlasted Uruguay on the pitch to advance to a mouthwatering matchup against Argentina in the tournament final. La Tricolor held on to an early lead despite going down to 10 men ahead of halftime. They will now face Lionel Messi’s team on Sunday, July 14th for the title.

While the game was certainly tense throughout the 90 minutes, pressure boiled over into the stands following the final whistle. Moments after the game ended, Uruguayan players were seen rushing to a lower section of the stadium to fight Colombian fans. Initial reactions to the unfortunate scene were to lambast the professional athletes from taking part in the melee. Nevertheless, more information regarding the situation eventually came to the surface.

According to those close to the situation, the skirmish started because a group of Colombian fans were targeting the families of Uruguay’s players. Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez was one of the more noticeable stars to partake in the fight. He, however, was certainly not alone. Barcelona‘s Ronaldo Araujo and Atletico Madrid center-back Jose Maria Gimenez were also among the players to be seen fighting with the Colombian fans.

Uruguay star says players were protecting family members

After the incident, Gimenez spoke on camera to better explain the issue. “Colombian fans in a certain section descended on all our families,” proclaimed the defender. “They won’t let us speak on the microphone. This is a disaster, our families were in danger. We had to rush into the stands to remove our loved ones with tiny newborn babies.”

“It’s a total disaster. There wasn’t a single police officer. They showed up half an hour later. A disaster. And we were there, standing up for ourselves, for our loved ones. Hopefully, organizers take a little more precautions with our families, with the people and those around the stadiums. Because this happens every game.”

The incident was undoubtedly not a good look for the tournament’s organizers. CONMEBOL, the governing body of the sport in South America, issued an official statement on social media a few hours after the match. The organization asserted that they condemn “any act of violence that affects football.”

“Our work is based on the conviction that soccer connects and unites us through its positive values,” read the statement. “There is no place for intolerance and violence on and off the field. We invite everyone in the remaining days to pour all their passion into cheering on their national teams and having an unforgettable party.”

Incident casts shadow over Copa America and raises World Cup concerns

Despite the statement, there are now serious security concerns heading into the Copa America 2024 final at the weekend. Not only is this particular match a potential area of worry but there is now an unsettling feeling surrounding the upcoming 2026 World Cup. Just like the current Copa America tournament, the next World Cup will be (mostly) hosted by the United States.

While security personnel did eventually step in to break up the fight on Wednesday night, the initial reaction by the officers did seem unnecessarily slow. Unfortunately, fights involving soccer fans have been an issue within the sport for decades.

However, security, particularly at these major tournaments, needs to help diffuse these situations before they get out of hand. Protecting the families of players, especially young children, should also be a key point of concern for the authorities.

Wednesday’s incident is certainly an embarrassing moment for Copa America organizers in the United States. Nevertheless, the regrettable issue will hopefully be in the minds of security officials throughout the 2026 World Cup.


Copa América 2024

Here are some resources to get you ready for Copa!
Copa América Schedule: Full schedule of all games for the 2024 tournament
How to watch: Information on where to find the games on TV and streaming
How to Stream Learn how you can stream Copa games live in 2024
Key Dates: Learn All the important dates to mark on your calendar
Copa (United States of) América: South America's biggest tournament comes back to the USA
2024 Soccer Calendar: Get the lowdown on what will be a busy year in soccer