Hope that Las Vegas could be the future home of a Major League Soccer team took a hit Wednesday night when the match between Club America and Chivas Guadalajara was marred by fan violence.
The exhibition match was won 1-0 by Chivas when 19 year old Giovanni Casillas headed home Abraham Coronado’s cross in the 86th minute. And while the ‘friendly’ version of El Super Clasico was played at great intensity and was hotly contested throughout the entire 90 minutes – a total of four players (including both team captains) were sent off after a mid-game bench clearing scuffle – it was off the pitch where things truly got out of hand.
One hour before kick-off hundreds of Club America fans swarmed a bus carrying Chivas supporters and launched baseball-sized rocks and bottles at the bus. Witnesses said that a melee ensued among some 400 fans that lasted about five minutes before 40 police officers responded. An additional 80 officers were thereafter called in for backup.
More violence erupted shortly thereafter when another fight broke out among fans trying to enter Sam Boyd Stadium and six people were left bloodied and injured. With stadium entrance points clogged, thousands of fans were denied timely entrance into the stadium after being forced to walk into the venue from Boulder Highway.
Inside the stadium fans banged drums, blew horns, sang, danced and set off smoke canisters. But as the on-field intensity heated up, so too did the shenanigans in the crowd. The player scrap that led to the four ejections prompted the opposing supporters to begin tossing projectiles at each other and by the time Casillas broke the deadlock, emotions boiled over.
With fireworks blasting off in the stands and Bud Light bottles littering the pitch, fans stormed the field and began fighting. Punches and kicks to the head left supporters bloodied and bruised as police were forced to call for backup. Metro Police officials noted that a few people were arrested by the end of the game but an exact tally was not kept.
Regardless of whether the match is a friendly or a championship tie, El Super Clasico always will be a fierce contest, both on and off the pitch. The rivals have been at each others’ throats since 1943, playing a total of 211 times with Club America winning 75 times, Chivas winning 73 times, and the other 63 contests ending in draws.
Like many great rivalries, the animosity is based on a battle of the haves (Club America) and the have-nots (Chivas). Club America fan Gil Garcia described the rivalry plain and simple: “(It’s) deadly. We don’t like each other.”
Despite the numerous clashes both outside and inside the stadium, event promoter Tim Luce was satisfied with the response. “I think we had adequate security,” event promoter Tim Luce said. “The police were prepared and stepped in quickly when the trouble began, and I commend them for their professional actions.”