After Sporting Kansas City’s win over Toluca FC on Thursday, a railing gave way as Toluca fans were reaching out to players. Several fans tumbled out of the section onto the ground below and the railing appeared to catch Felipe Pardo, one of the Toluca players exiting the field.
It is now being reported that Pardo will be out 4-6 weeks. The Colombian winger came to Toluca from Olympiacos and has made 6 appearances in the Clausura. This injury would keep Pardo out of the second leg of the CCL series, and possibly as long as the semi-finals if Toluca were to advance.
Sporting KC issued this statement regarding the incident:
The safety of all fans is paramount and is a responsibility that we prioritize. The club is thoroughly investigating what occurred following the conclusion of last night’s match that resulted in a few minor injuries, which included one fan receiving treatment and being discharged from a local hospital. Stadium personnel and team medical staff responded to assist within seconds. Engineers and contractors have been out already today to inspect fan areas in advance of the team’s next home match on March 10.
Fortunately for all involved, it was the lower section of railing that gave way and not a higher one, so the fan injuries were all relatively minor. The fan that was taken to the hospital passed by the post game mix zone where media was preparing to interview players. At least at that time he appeared in good spirits and apparently was released after being treated.
A little history
This is a section that when the stadium was designed would typically not have had teams entering or exiting the field so fans would not have been trying to interact with players. Up until 2017 teams entered and exited the field from the center tunnel on the west side. The same tunnel that Sporting KC uses. That tunnel was used for photographers and other non-player field access.
Visiting teams were mandated to use the alternate tunnel after an incident involving Tim Howard. Witnesses at the time described Howard getting into the face of a fan and Sporting KC were forced to change the team flow to prevent possible future issues.
The railings at the bottom of sections and where fans were expected to be in close proximity to players seemed to have stronger support but that may not be true in all cases.
Clearly, player and fan safety are both of utmost importance and Sporting KC will have to make sure to implement any changes needed. While that section was not intended to have fans and players close to each other, it is that way now and there may be other sections with similar rail supports.
To the Toluca fans
During the game we may not be friends, but we all respect the support you show for your team. We wish you a speedy recovery and safe travels. Here is Facebook video of incident.
Posted by Erick Hernandez on Friday, February 22, 2019