Belfast Telegraph

Milk Cup: Mexico player kicks Northern Ireland opponent on ground during brawl

By Chris Kilpatrick

The organisers of a prestigious youth football tournament have hit out at disgraceful scenes during which an opponent kicked a Northern Ireland player.

The Milk Cup game between Mexico and the hosts featured shameful scenes including mass brawls between players, four of whom were sent off.

Shocking video footage posted online showed a Mexican player kicking Northern Ireland striker Dale Gorman while he was lying on the ground.

The organising body yesterday said those dismissed during the game would play no further part in this year's competition, which attracts players from across the world and teams including Manchester United, Liverpool and Rangers.

Northern Ireland Under-20 manager, former international defender Stephen Craigan, called for Mexico to be banned from future tournaments.

Trouble flared during Wednesday evening's Elite Section game at a packed Coleraine Showgrounds.

With Mexico leading 1-0, the match descended into farce in the 57th minute when a fight broke out as Northern Ireland attempted to take a corner.

A number of players were floored including the home team's Josh Doherty and Gorman.

Stewards had to run onto the pitch to intervene before three players were sent off.

They were Mexico goalkeeper Raul Gudino and defender Carlos Arreola, as well as Northern Ireland's Robbie McDaid.

The game was halted again in the 89th minute after Mexico's Kevin Gutierrez was sent off. Another brawl ensued and the match was brought to an abrupt end.

The home team was winning 2-1. Referee Tim Marshall confirmed afterwards that the result would stand and that he had not abandoned the fixture.

A Milk Cup spokesman confirmed those sent off would be prevented from playing again this year. "The Mexican FA and Irish Football Association will be informed of the behaviour of their Under-20 teams in what turned out to be a poor advertisement for soccer," he said.

"We would ask all teams to remember that they should be ambassadors for the game, their club and their country and appeal that they examine their behaviour and strive towards fulfilling the good intentions laid down in FifaFair Play."

Mr Craigan said the Mexican players were mostly responsible for the trouble. "I think some of our players had to protect themselves from kicks, punches and headbutts," he said.

"It was not nice. There were young kids here from around the world. They were here to watch a football match, they do not expect to see that.

"Mexico did it last year, they had a man sent off for punching. They have a history of it.

"I have to be careful what I say, but I would like to think Mexico will not be back at the Milk Cup.

"It is not what the Milk Cup is all about. It is about people enjoying football and young kids expressing themselves, not that kind of violence."

The Milk Cup is an annual week-long youth tournament which is in its 32nd year.

A police spokeswoman said that to date nobody had complained to the PSNI regarding the match.

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