Tegucigalpa [Honduras]: At least three people lost their lives and several others sustained injuries when clashes broke out between fans of rival soccer clubs in the Honduran capital on Saturday night (local time), Xinhua news agency reported.
The violence broke out inside and near the city’s National Stadium ahead of a scheduled match between the Olimpia and Motagua clubs.
The violence is believed to have started when Olimpia supporters attacked the Motagua team bus with stones and sticks. “Bottles, stones were thrown at us and the players threw themselves on the floor screaming,” Diego Vasquez, Motagua coach, told the local media.
The Honduran National Police said that fans of the rival teams rioted following the attack on the bus. “Fans of both teams staged a confrontation on the outskirts of the stadium, so they (police) proceeded with the use of deterrent means,” police said, adding that tear gas was used.
The police also implemented emergency procedures inside the stadium in a bid to halt attendees from stampeding towards the exit and being caught up by tear gas shells outside the stadium, CNN reported.
The National Football League of Honduras subsequently cancelled the game that expected at least 20,000 fans.
“This has to be severely sanctioned by the corresponding authorities,” Motagua club wrote on Twitter.
“Reprehensible and lamentable,” it added.
Rafael Villeda, president of Olympia, told Honduran media that the violence was “unfortunate” and said he would meet with the leadership of Motagua and the National League to decide on the future of the match.
Olimpia and Motagua are the two most successful football teams in Honduras, and their rivalry is seen as the biggest in the country.