Early Doors

Nine Uruguayan players banned after brawl in ‘friendly’

Nine players were banned for two months on Wednesday after a free-for-all in a clash between Uruguayan giants Penarol and Nacional whose bitter enmity boiled over in a friendly.

Kicking and punching broke out among the two teams near the end of the match at the Centenario on Monday evening, a 1-0 win for Nacional in a four-team tournament during the mid-season summer break.

Referee Martin Vazquez sent off two players from each side in a token gesture, saying he could not quickly identify other culprits and otherwise would have had to show his red card to all of them.

Eleven players were detained on Tuesday, spent the night in jail and went before judge Blanca Riera who handed down the bans with effect from Wednesday.

Two players, including Uruguay defender Andres Scotti, Nacional's captain, were absolved.

"We profoundly regret (what happened) because, like it or not, we are an image for many kids, many people. Let's hope it doesn't happen again," Scotti told reporters.

Penarol's lawyer Jorge Barrera, who told reporters of the verdicts, said the ban did not include matches abroad but judicial sources made no comment.

Both clubs will be taking part in this year's Libertadores Cup, South America's top club competition which kicks off next week with a preliminary round involving Nacional, who are away to Bolivia's Oriente Petrolero on Tuesday.

Prosecutor Gustavo Zubia had sought greater punishment for eight of the players including jail terms for fighting at a public spectacle.

"We can't continue to tolerate that things of this magnitude should be passed over as if they hadn't happened," he told TV Canal 10 earlier.

Uruguayan football is often marred by violence on and off the pitch, notably when rival gangs of hooligans, especially Penarol and Nacional barrabravas, fight each other or clash with police.

Supporters of Uruguay's Penarol (Reuters)

Reuters