Fight mars youth soccer match at 'The Happiest Place on Earth'

By Evan Hilbert | CBSSports.com

WSVN-TV -

A youth soccer match at Disneyworld in Orlando ended in a fight that sent one teen to the hospital and another facing possible felony charges.

Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex played host to a pair of under-16 teams, one from Orlando and the other from Miami. Following the what was described as "a tough, hard-fought game" by one parent, a melee broke out on the field between players and parents from both sides.

Details are scarce, but two parents from the Orlando side contend that the Miami players and parents were the aggressors.

"What made this insane was that the parents cleared the bench," Matthew Feinberg, whose son played for the Orlando team and was taken to the hospital with a concussion and other injuries, told the Orlando Sentinel. "The parents on [the Miami] team helped their children. They even hit some kids on our team.

"A grandparent was punched in the chest, and his pacemaker went off. He was on the ground."

The Miami team, however, disputes Feinberg's version of the facts, and contends that they are being racially profiled.

"The goalkeeper who supposedly had a concussion, he initiated the brawl," Monica Mularski, a volunteer director from the Miami side, told the Miami New Times. "It was an Orlando [FC] father who first stepped foot onto the field. And the grandfather with the pacemaker actually assaulted three of our players, and they can identify him as well.

"It's very easy to blame it on us. The majority of our players are Hispanic, our coach is Hispanic, most of them speak Spanish."

The Osceola County Sheriff's Office recommended that one teen from the Miami side face felony battery charges, but beyond that, no further charges have been filed, according to the Sentinel.

A Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said that the charge has been forwarded to the State Attorney's office, but that current details don't indicate anything beyond an on-field fracas.

"[Police deputies] didn't indicate it was a brawl, and we have not charged anyone with rioting," she said. "We don't have any evidence that it rose to the level of a riot."

Still, Feinberg is set on bringing responsible parties to justice -- even if he must take matters into his own hands.

"I'm going to pursue what I can on this until they're punished," he told the Sentinel. "They need to learn their lesson. It's a friendly competition. You can't act like a thug."

However, Mularski went as far as to contend that the Sentinel's coverage of the events were biased against the Miami team.

"It's very sad that the article was made to pretty much profile and label our kids as 'Miami thugs' when that's exactly what we are trying to avoid," Mularski said. "The reporter published a very biased article with key points that are obviously, if not to do a favor for a previous employee, to assist an acquaintance with a personal vendetta."

One of the parents quoted in the Sentinel story is a former employee of the paper, which is disclosed in the report. Still, Mularski took issue with the paper's account of the incident, while allowing that blame falls to both sides.

"We are not going to say that our kids aren't at fault," Mularski said. "All parents and kids on that field assaulting one another should be held accountable. We will hold our kids and parents responsible. We are already putting kids on probation. But it's not so one-sided as it appears in that article."

(h/t Prep Rally)

 
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