Soccer refs attacked after game

By Brian Bothun
Palo Alto Daily News staff
March 28, 2000

A championship adult soccer game turned violent in Menlo Park when two losing players and a disgruntled fan allegedly attacked two referees, police said yesterday.

The melee broke out in Kelly Park in the Belle Haven neighborhood after an East Palo Alto team came from behind and beat a Redwood City team during an overtime, tie-breaking round, officials said.

One referee was kicked in the growing in the other sustained scratches and purses to his head after he attacked about 3:15pm Sunday, Menlo Park police Sgt. Chris Boyd said.

The East Palo Alto team tied the score 4-4 during an extra minute of play given by the referees because of an injury or out-of-bounds shot earlier in the game, said Walter Campos, an official with the Spanish soccer league.

Because of the extra time, the East Palo Alto team was able to come from behind and eventually win on penalty kicks, Campos said. "The fans offended went more than a minute over and that's when (the attack) happened," Campos told the daily News. Neither team's coach protested the extra time, Campos said.

The two players who allegedly attack to the referees were from the losing Redwood City team, known as the Cruz Azula, which stands for blue coast, Campos said. The winning East Palo Alto team is named Fas, Campos said.

One arrested

Police arrested 20 five-year-old Pedro Lopez of East Palo Alto on suspicion of battery, police said. Police are looking for the two players for questioning.

While soccer violence isn't unknown elsewhere in world, this is the first such Menlo Park case police have handled in recent memory, Boyd said.

The Sunday afternoon gain in Menlo Park was the season championship for the five-year-old Spanish soccer league, Campos said.

Players face suspension

The league -- with 26 teams and more than 400 players -- already has trouble finding referees because it doesn't pay as well as other groups, Campos said. He said he's worried the violence make it harder.

"With this kind of violence you have problems getting referees," said Campos, 32, who began playing soccer at a child is native El Salvador. After playing soccer for Sequoia high school in Redwood City, Campos joined one adult league but quit because of the violence.

In addition to criminal charges the two Redwood City players face a one-year suspension from the league and the team will be fined $400, Campos said.

Often, violence at adult soccer games is because of alcohol, the Campos said that wasn't the problems Sunday.

Previously, however, the league fined one team $500 for bringing too much alcohol to games, Campos said. The fine caused the team to quit the league, he said.

Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

Saturday, 29-Apr-2000 16:28:00 MDT