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Why Darwin Núñez and Uruguay Teammates Scrapped With Colombia Fans After Copa Loss

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Updated: | Originally published:

The Copa América soccer tournament held in the U.S. this summer has been characterized by intense physicality on the field. But while six yellow cards and one red card were issued during the semifinal on Wednesday night, it ended up being action off the field that grabbed the most attention.

A sea of yellow filled the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.—as supporters of Colombia far outnumbered those of their blue-wearing rivals Uruguay—but, amid the 90°F humid atmosphere, tensions quickly turned red-hot after the full-time whistle sent Uruguay home and Colombia to the final.

Videos of the scene quickly went viral on social media, showing opposing spectators throw punches and beverages at one another, and Uruguayan players—including Liverpool forward Darwin Núñez and Barcelona defender Ronald Araújo—climb into the stands to join in the brawl.

Núñez could be seen taking several swings at Colombia fans as his teammates attempted to hold him back before officials appeared to separate the two sides.

The tussle in the stands took place after a brief scuffle between the opposing players on the pitch, following a testy match that saw favorites Uruguay lose to Colombia, 1-0, despite being a man up for the entire second half after Colombia’s Daniel Muñoz was sent off for elbowing an opponent. Colombia has now extended its record unbeaten streak to 28 games as it heads to Miami next to take on Lionel Messi and Argentina for the South American title on Sunday.

After the melee had subsided, Uruguayan captain José María Giménez told reporters that his teammates had acted in response to a group of Colombia fans attacking the Uruguayan players’ families, who were seated in a section near the touchline. “They stormed all our families,” Giménez said, complaining about the lack of official security intervention. “This is a disaster. Our family is in danger. We had to get on top of the stands ASAP to rescue our loved ones.”

Ignacio Alonso, president of the Uruguayan Football Association, similarly explained to reporters: “Uruguay’s players had an instinctive reaction that is natural, which is to defend and protect the children who were in that area of the stadium and were suffering attacks on the women, on the parents, on the closest family members, siblings. And it’s a father’s reaction that is intuitively natural and was very rational given the events that surrounded them.”

ESPN commentator and former U.S. national team player Herculez Gomez echoed the frustrations of the Uruguayans, calling the lack of security at the stadium “dangerously pathetic,” in a post on X, as he shared footage of Núñez consoling his young son in the aftermath of the altercation.

The chaos at the stadium has drawn particular concern about organizational capabilities ahead of the 2026 World Cup, which the U.S. will co-host with Mexico and Canada.

CONMEBOL, the South American soccer body that organizes the Copa América, condemned the violence in a statement shortly after the match, saying fans should channel their passion into cheering and that “there is no place for intolerance and violence on and off the field.”

On Thursday, CONMEBOL reiterated that the previous night’s incident was “unacceptable” and announced that its “disciplinary unit has decided to open an investigation to clarify the sequence of events and the responsibilities of those involved,” warning: “we will not tolerate any action that tarnishes the global celebration of soccer.”

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