If you've ever played soccer in Miami, you've seen it happen dozens of times: Someone makes a hard tackle or calls a borderline foul. Suddenly, the testosterone flows like cafecitos from a ventanita. Sweaty faces are pushed together. Someone screams, "¡Puta!" Chests are shoved. An irate striker grabs the portable goals and tries to walk off the field.
The vast majority of the time, tempers simmer down and the game goes on. But then there are nights like Monday inside La Caimanera Soccer Fields in Doral:
After a ref at the indoor soccer park gave a red card, the game devolved into a massive, screaming brawl with players eventually chasing the ref through the building. Eventually, the cornered ref started throwing haymakers, and punches flew between dozens of men who look a decade or so too old for their custom Paris Saint-Germain kits.
Doral Police officers were called to the soccer park about 10:45 p.m. Monday, but by the time they got there, the fight had burned itself out and the only remaining combatants told the cops they didn't want to press charges.
"When our officers got there, there were people in the lot, but everything had calmed down," says Officer Rey Valdes, a spokesperson for Doral PD. "The ref had ejected a player from the game, and there was a disagreement between the ref and the players as to the way things were handled, so one of them landed a punch. A fight did break out, and they both suffered minor injuries. But both men refused to press charges."
However, the full video of the brawl shows the fight went well beyond one angry player versus a ref. And in the comments regarding the video, witnesses and players at the game claim the root of the fight was tension between Cubans and Venezuelans.
One man claiming to be the ref, who is black, says racist slurs were involved.
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"There also spit on me, all because I am Cuban and black," wrote the man, Annier Quintana Mendieta, whose Instagram page includes several photos of him reffing other games in Miami. "I have a degree in physical culture, I also become a professional referee."
But others commenting about the video dispute that account. "I know very well the four men who were assaulted, and so they were not offending you with racist words or insults, much less spitting," another commenter writes in Spanish. "Lies!"
Valdes says that police didn't see the video until this morning and that when they responded to the fight Monday night, no one mentioned any racist abuse.
"In the video, clearly there are 15 or 20 people involved in this fight, but at the time we were called, there were just the two combatants," Valdes says. "No one else has contacted us since about pressing any charges."