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News > Sport

Disrespect on the Pitch: Is Uruguay the Joke of Copa America?

  • Uruguay fans before their team's match against Mexico

    Uruguay fans before their team's match against Mexico | Photo: AFP

Published 6 June 2016

Copa America has a lot to apologize for, and its all to Uruguay's national team.

Uruguay's soccer team complained on Sunday that Copa America mixed up their national anthem with that Chile's and didn't acknowledge a handball from Mexico—indignities compound by an assistant referee making an obscene gesture at them on the field.

The Uruguayan players lined up on the pitch for their anthem, "Orientales, la Patria o la Tumba," ahead of their tournament opener but were instead greeted at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale by the national anthem of Chile. Organizers quickly sent out an apology.

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"We sincerely apologise to the Uruguayan Federation, the Uruguay National Team, the people of Uruguay and to the fans for this mistake. We will work with all parties involved to ensure such an error does not occur again," the statement said.

But Uruguay's day did not get better.

After a first goal by Mexico, Uruguay demanded the referee acknowledge that a Mexican player had touched the ball with his hand. 

According to player Fernando Muslera, he told the asisstant referee about the play but the official grabbed his genitals and declined to call the handball. It all went downhill from there, Uruguay left with 10 players after a member of the team was ejected. Mexico ultimately won by a score of 3 to 1.

The mistake capped off an auspicious opening weekend to the tournament, which the United States is hosting for the first time, with matches seeing only a few goals and, in some cases, sparse crowds.

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