Soccer-Colombian players call for league halt due to protests


Demonstrators take to the streets in anti-government protests demanding the end to police violence, economic support as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic batters incomes, and the withdrawal of a health reform, in Cali, Colombia May 12, 2021. REUTERS/Juan B Diaz

(Reuters) -The union of Colombian footballers called on authorities to halt all domestic matches because of political instability in the country on Thursday, just a month before the Copa America is due to kick off in Colombia and Argentina.

Colombia has been hit by a wave of protests since late April with riot police wielding tear gas and stun grenades clashing with crowds in many of the country’s biggest cities.

Four games in continental cup competitions were moved from Colombia to Paraguay and Ecuador last week due to the unrest.

Hours after the union's appeal, a Copa Libertadores match in Barranquilla between America de Cali and Brazil's Atletico Mineiro was halted several times as players were affected by tear gas fired outside the stadium.

The first half took more than an hour to complete.

At one point the players were removed from the pitch due to the affects of the gas. The match was played to a conclusion, with Atletico winning 3-1.

On Wednesday, players and coaches from Colombia's Junior and Argentine club River Plate struggled with tear gas in another Libertadores tie in Barranquilla.

The Colombian league playoffs are scheduled to take place on Sunday with two semi-final games slated. However, the last of the quarter-finals, due to be played on Friday between Deportivo Cali and Deportes Tolima, has been postponed.

In an appeal to the Colombian Football Federation, the league and their own clubs, players with the Acolfutpro union said that “until the public order situation that affects the entire country and puts our wellbeing at risk is not resolved, we ask you not to schedule any more games in domestic tournaments.”

In an open letter, the union said “professional footballers stand with the Colombians who are demanding a better country”.

The move comes just 25 days before the national side is due to face Argentina in a World Cup qualifier in Barranquilla.

And on June 14, Colombia is set to host the first of 15 games in the Copa America tournament, which features 10 South American countries.

The tournament is the oldest in international football and is being held by two countries for the first time, with Colombia and Argentina sharing the duties.

The kick-off is in Buenos Aires on June 13 and the final is scheduled for Barranquilla on July 10.

(Reporting by Andrew Downie in London; Editing by Stephen Coates/Peter Rutherford)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Next In Football

Soccer-Poland's mentality was key in Spain draw, says coach Sousa
Soccer-I feel as good as I have all season, says England's Kane
Soccer-We do have intensity says Jordi Alba as Spain struggle again
Soccer-Wasteful Spain held by Poland, face crunch final group game
Soccer-Germany's pressing game bore fruit against Portugal, says Loew
Soccer-Portugal's Santos shoulders blame for big loss to resurgent Germany
ANALYSIS-Soccer-Dream performance for Gosens as German intimidates Portugal
Soccer-Germany bounce back with statement 4-2 win over Portugal
Soccer-Hungary ready to surprise Germany after France draw, says coach
Soccer-'For Christian' - Danish fans prepare for final group-match push

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers