ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A New Mexico youth soccer league is investigating allegations that parents yelled racial slurs at Hispanic girl soccer players and that a parent physically assaulted one of the girls during a game.
The Duke City Soccer League said Tuesday it’s looking into reports that a white man choked and groped a 14-year-old player during a match Saturday in Bernalillo, New Mexico, which spectators say was filled with racial tensions.
Ana Garcia, coach of Alameda 99, a largely Latina team of players 19 and younger, said the melee began after her players experienced racial taunting during an intense 3-3 game with Rio Galaxy – one of the Albuquerque area’s elite soccer clubs.
“All throughout the game, the parents were calling the players things like ‘dirty Mexicans,’ and other stuff I can’t even repeat,” Garcia said.
Rio Galaxy coach Steve Kokulis, said he didn’t hear any racial slurs directed at the Alameda team from parents but his players reported to him that their opponents used anti-white epithets – a charge Alameda parents strongly deny.
After an Alameda player pushed a Rio Galaxy player and two Rio Galaxy players jumped the Alameda girl, a melee broke out, Garcia said. Video of the fight submitted to the league shows two Rio Galaxy girls attacking the Alameda player before a parent is seen running onto the field.
It is illegal in New Mexico for parents to run onto the field during a youth sports event, said Luis Robles, a lawyer who heads Duke City Soccer League’s disciplinary department.
As referees and parents tried to separate the girls, a parent from Rio Galaxy ran onto the field, grabbed an Alameda player and choked her, Garcia said. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Garcia said.
Aracely “Arcie” Chapa, a parent of two Alameda players, said she saw a 300-pound (136-kilogram) man wrapping his arm around the girl’s chest while snapping her neck back and holding her in a tight vice.
After the girl’s father freed her from the man’s grip, Chapa said she heard the man tell the father, “Oh yea, I touched your daughter all right.”
Rio Galaxy players bragged about their role in the fight and about the man who allegedly attacked one their opponents on Snapchat posts submitted to the league for review. On one Snapchat video, a Rio Galaxy player after the fight is heard asking, “does anyone have the number for ICE” – a reference to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Kokulis said he saw parents run onto the field but he didn’t see any parent choke or assault a player.
“Not from where I was standing,” Kokulis said. “Things got out of hand. It was unfortunate because it was a good game.”
The league suspended both teams for a game.
Santa Ana Pueblo Police were called to the scene since the melee occurred on tribal land but no arrests were made. Santa Ana Pueblo Police Chief Bonadelle Candelaria would not confirm if the tribe was investigating the case and said she could not comment. She referred all questions to the Duke City Soccer League.
Robles said the league is reviewing all the evidence and will make a judgment about any allegation of physical assault or child abuse independent of law enforcement. The parent could be banned from soccer games for life if the allegations are proven, he said.