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Copa América: Luis Suarez criticizes Colombian celebrations

Copa América: Luis Suarez criticizes Colombian celebrations

Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez has slammed Colombia’s “ugly” celebrations after Wednesday’s Copa América semi-final ended in violent scenes, with players arguing on the pitch and brawling with fans in the stands at Bank of America Stadium.

Colombian striker Miguel Borja celebrated in front of Uruguay’s players after the 10-man team won 1-0 in Charlotte, North Carolina, which secured a place in this weekend’s final against defending champions Argentina.

Meanwhile, Uruguay’s Darwin Núñez and several of his teammates stormed the stands and engaged in a brawl with fans before security officers restored order.

“There are always arguments, jokes and things like that, but the most annoying thing was the way (Borja) celebrated,” Inter Miami’s Suarez told reporters after the match.

“There’s no point celebrating like that. We knocked Brazil out last time and none of us got ahead of any Brazilian player. Quite the opposite. We went to them later because we’re teammates on the pitch and we know what it means to be knocked out.

“Celebrating in the presence of a professional colleague is ugly… But what happens, happens.”

While Borja was celebrating the victory, some of the Uruguayan players went to the part of the stadium where their families were sitting. According to Suárez, objects were thrown at them.

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

“Things started raining down on them. Nobody wants to see those images, but of course, if you see a family member being attacked, you try to defend them. It doesn’t justify what happened, but you have to realize they were trying to protect their families and their children.

“From a distance, I saw that many of my teammates’ families and children were trapped in this section. It’s normal to feel helpless and want to help when someone throws something at them.”

Videos posted on social media show Liverpool striker Núñez at the forefront of the brawl and exchanging blows with opposing fans.

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

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

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

“There was also some aggression where we were, but the most worrying thing is what happened on the pitch. In the end, it was resolved quite quickly, but not without some inconveniences, as you all saw.

“We are analysing the images. At this time, it does not appear that anyone is in difficulty and measures have been taken to help people get transport to the appropriate locations and help has been provided to those who have had panic attacks.

“Now, as we return to the hotel, we will analyze exactly what happened. At every tournament, there are families sitting in the stands. Usually there is a cordon or something like that.”

A first-half header from Jefferson Lerma secured victory for Colombia, who were forced to play the entire second half with ten men after Daniel Muñoz was sent off.

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

On Saturday at Bank of America Stadium, Uruguay will face Canada in the third-place match.