Uruguayan football suspended after attack on officials

The Uruguay Football Association (AUF) was forced to suspend all football competitions in the country on Sunday after two officials, including one woman, were attacked by spectators and players the previous day.

The brutal attack, which took place during an under-19 game between hosts Platense and Basanez on Saturday, was captured on video and led to the Uruguay Football Referees' Association (AUDAF) halting football until further notice.

A statement from AUF read: "Given the resolution taken by the Uruguay Football Referees' Association (AUDAF), the AUF has suspended all activity for all disciplines and levels for Sunday (24/9)."

Among the games that were called off on Sunday were five Primera Division encounters.

The brawl began when a child, estimated to be between eight and 10 years old, started throwing stones onto the pitch during the encounter in Montevideo.

One of the victims of the brawl was Carlos Roca, who was not officiating that day but was in the stands watching as his girlfriend, Anahi Fernandez, was on the pitch as the assistant referee.

"Our attacked official [Roca] spoke to the Platense [team] delegate to tell the child to stop," AUDAF president Marcelo De Leon told Uruguayan radio station FM Del Sol. "However, he [delegate] turned against him, insulting him, before parents joined in and attacked our colleague in a cowardly way.

"Platense starters and subs as well as one Basanez player also took part in the aggression.

"She [assistant referee Fernandez] saw the brutal attack that her colleague was getting and tried to separate them but ended up being hit... she was kicked and punched by the Platense players.

"We have evidence of what I'm saying, witnesses and a police report."

De Leon said both officials needed medical attention after the incident.

"They were treated and their injuries were evaluated, with his [Roca] being more important while hers were less serious," he said. "I feel sadness, outrage and helplessness.

"It was a unanimous decision that we took to stop all activity. You cannot justify this at all. I am grateful for the unconditional support we have received from AUF in the fight against violence.

"On Wednesday we will show to the AUDAF assembly a presentation of what happened and the meetings we've had up to now and what solutions need to be taken. There we will consider if we can continue or not with our duties."

Both Platense and Basanez issued statements condemning the brutal attacks and stating they would take action against those responsible.

Dario Ubriaco, head of the department of referees at AUDAF, says violence in football has become a common spectacle in his country, especially at youth level.

"This time the ones attacked were referees, but unfortunately, these things happen almost all weekends in youth games," he told Ovacion Digital. "It's not just exclusive to football but there is a lot of violence.

"The other day I went to watch an U14 game that was played behind closed doors and the children were very calm and nothing happened. This proves that the problem is the adults and that it comes from outside.

"There was a group of 20 people [on Saturday] hitting one person who was lying down on the floor and there were 20 people looking on and even filming it [the attack] in order to upload it onto social media later instead of doing something to help."