FIFA vows action after U-20 brawl
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Fridaysoccer's governing body will take "adequate actions" to address a melee between the Chilean team and police following a FIFA U-20 World Cup match Thursday night in Toronto.
In an interview on CBC Newsworld, Blatter called the incident a "black mark" on what has otherwise been a successful tournament.
"On behalf of FIFA, I have to express regret over what happened because the origin [of the encounter] was definitely the bad behaviour of one of the FIFA teams that qualified for this wonderful competition, and giving this black mark just at the end of this competition is not good,"he said.
"FIFA will now make disciplinary investigations and take adequate actions [with regards] to the behaviour of the players and the officials of Chile."
Blatter also said he apologized for the incident to Toronto Mayor David Miller, and that Miller told Blatter that police may have been "rough" in their response.
However, Miller told the Canadian Press that he made no such comments to Blatter.
Instead, Miller said he was pleased with the way one officer in particular handled the situation by sending the players back into the care of their coach.
The commotion started as Chilean players were about to greet fans after their 3-0 loss to Argentina in a semifinal match at BMO Field.
As the players walked to their bus at the side of the stadium, police prevented them from reaching a large fence that separated them from hundreds of angry, chanting fans.
As pushing and shoving began, a Chilean official said police used pepper spray and a Taserto subdue the players and some other members of the country's soccer delegation.
Police eventually handcuffed several players, some of them bloodied and screaming, and escorted them back into the dressing room while shocked FIFA and Canadian soccer officials looked on.
A FIFA spokesman said early Friday that police made no arrests, but the entire Chilean team was detained at the stadium after the incident.
Tempers flare after match
The skirmish followed a heated match in which German referee Wolfgang Stark issued 11 yellow and red cards — nine to Chile — and ejected two Chilean players.
When the final whistle blew, several Chilean players tried to get at the officiating crew, but were restrained by the coaching staff. Two police officers escorted the officiating crew off the pitch, but they stopped as they neared the tunnel, eyeing the angry crowd.
"My officers were forced to intervene, initially, to protect the referees," Toronto police Chief Bill Blair said."As the teams were leaving the stadium, an argument broke out between a member of the Chilean team and a rival fan," Blair said in a statement.
"My officers were forced to intervene, again, to end the dispute. Members of the Chilean team then decided to direct some of their aggressive behaviour towards my officers.
"The job of my officers was to respond in a firm, but fair, manner to end that violence. They are trained to do so, and that is what they did."
Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Alejandro Foxley said he is making a formal complaint to the Canadian government over "unjustified aggression" by Toronto police.
Foxley said his government is demanding a clear explanation as to why police reacted with such "unusual methods."
Chilean official criticizes police
Harold Mayne-Nicholls of the Chilean Soccer Federation apologized for the behaviour of the players, but also criticized the actionstaken by Toronto police.
He claimed the players were relaxed in the dressing room following the game and shifted their attention to Sunday's bronze-medal match (CBC, noon ET) against Austria.
Mayne-Nicholls said Toronto police overreacted when the players boarded the bus, suggesting Chilean police would've acteddifferently.
"We cannot accept those kinds of things coming from the police," he said.
With files from the Canadian Press