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Dan Lebowitz, executive director, Center for Sport in Society
Timothy Pratt, journalist and soccer fan
Ron Kantowski, columnist, Las Vegas Review-Journal
BY AMY KINGSLEY -- A “friendly” match between rival soccer teams on July 3 turned into a violent brawl. Fans stormed the field during injury time and hurled bottles and fists at each other.
What caused the melee? Was it the violent culture of international soccer, or was the big event simply mismanaged?
Timothy Pratt, a journalist who was at the game with his 11-year-old son, said there should have been more police at the event. When the two teams, Chivas and Club America, meet in Mexico, security is tight.
“I thought, if the police don’t arrive on the touchline before the end of this game, there’s going to be more violence,” Pratt said. “Because I could feel it right away that what had happened before the game was going to continue inside the stadium.”
Dan Lebowitz, the executive director of the Center for Sport in Society, said the violence at the game was simply the expression of a violent society.
“Why do we allow violence to permeate all of our cultures, particularly our definition of manhood?” Lebowitz asked.
In big groups, people adopt a herd mentality that can become destructive.
“Once we congregate in large groups, we’d be better off thinking about the communal sense of well-being, rather than the individual sense that I’m going to exert my power and my fanaticism over you,” Lebowitz said.
Still, Pratt said that the issue of violence is particularly problematic in international professional soccer.
“It’s the only professional sport where professional clubs are sanctioned fairly regularly, unfortunately, with the punishment of playing before empty stadiums due to fan misbehavior,” he said.
But Ron Kantowksi, a columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal said other friendly matches have gone off without a hitch, including a game last year between Real Madrid and Santos Laguna. But those teams did not have the same heated rivalry as Chivas and Club America.
“Maybe in retrospect, these weren’t the two ideal teams to bring in here to promote soccer,” Kantowski said.