The fan responsible for throwing the projectile that struck U.S. men’s national team player Gio Reyna during the CONCACAF Nations League final between the USA and Mexico has been arrested, banned and is now facing criminal charges.
Stadium officials at Empower Field at Mile High, where the match was played on Sunday night, confirmed the news on Monday via a statement:
“While the night showcased Denver as a world-class soccer destination and Empower Field at Mile High as a premiere sports and entertainment venue, the actions of a few patrons unfortunately took away from a memorable event. In addition to ejecting several individuals for violating the fan code of conduct, our security staff worked closely with the Denver Police Department to identify five people who were arrested—four for trespassing and one for throwing projectiles.
“The person arrested for throwing an object on the field was identified through security footage as being responsible for injuring a U.S. player. Along with facing criminal charges, this patron will be banned from all future events at Empower Field at Mile High.
U.S. national team players were pelted with objects thrown by fans as they celebrated the game-winning, penalty-kick goal by Christian Pulisic in extra time of the Nations League title match. Reyna needed to be treated by U.S. team trainers on the field after broadcast video showed a projectile from the stands struck him in the head.
Reyna scored the USA’s first goal of the match earlier in the first half, momentarily leveling the score at 1-1. It was his first goal in a competitive match for the senior national team and his family, including his father and former U.S. soccer legend Claudio Reyna, was in the stands for the event. The USMNT would go on to win the match 3-2 in a dramatic finish in extra time.
After the match, U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter said that Reyna “is going to be OK.” A USMNT official indicated on Monday that the player was doing fine.
“It has no place in the game, spectators throwing objects onto the field,” Berhalter said on Sunday. “Total lack of respect for what’s happening on the field and all the effort that both teams were putting into the game. So really disappointing to see. I think he’s going to be OK, but he did take something to the head, and it could’ve been a lot worse.”
More projectiles were thrown in the midst of a dust-up between the two teams on the other end of the field. One of those projectiles struck Mexican forward Henry Martin. The individual responsible for that incident has yet to be identified, according to stadium officials.
The two instances of fans throwing debris to the field marred a compelling rivalry matchup for the inaugural Nations League crown which drew 37,648 at Empower Field, home of the Denver Broncos.
There were also pitch invasions by a handful of fans toward the end of the match that resulted in a stoppage in play until the individuals were cleared from the field. Empower Field officials stated that a total of four individuals were arrested for trespassing.
The Mexican Football Federation on Monday also issued a statement that addressed the fan incidents and the use of a homophobic chant by a segment of Mexican supporters that resulted in a stoppage of play as part of a protocol established by organizers to crack down on the chant.
Sadly, due to the conduct of some, Mexico fans are now being called out around the globe for acts of discrimination or violence.
After the events of our recent MexTour match in Dallas, and the Concacaf Nations League games in Denver, the FMF urges its fans to avoid the discriminatory chant, our biggest opponent, that can result in our team losing a match, and even keep us from playing in the World Cup.
We also ask fans to avoiding acts of violence from the stands, such as throwing objects to the pitch.
We count on your support for the National Team from the stands, avoiding any offensive, discriminatory or violent conduct which does not represent the Mexico of today, nor those who for years has been recognized as the best fans in the world.
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