It’s one of those moments that is completely unexpected in a soccer match. It is not unusual for a player to stall or delay when they are up or tied on the road. It’s also not clear if Kaku was just trying to slow the game down or he was kicking the ball away out of anger from a bad pass. Whatever the reason (or lack thereof), the New York Red Bulls player ran a couple steps and launched the ball into the face of a fan from close range during a stoppage in play, a time when fans should not have to be ready to defend themselves.
“Out of the corner of my eye it looked like he just kicked the ball into the crowd. That’s just something you can’t do, it’s disrespectful wherever you are at. I’m sure he didn’t react the way he wanted to, but it happened,” Sporting KC Captain Matt Besler stated after the game. “Who knows what was going through his head, just the heat of the moment.”
Besler was one of the first Sporting Kansas City players to arrive after Kaku kicked the ball into the fan, followed up by Graham Zusi and the rest of the team.
Ilie Sanchez did not see what happened initially but when he got closer, he realized what had taken place, “I just saw our fan bleeding, it was a sad situation.”
“That should not be tolerated in anyone’s stadium,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes told The Blue Testament at practice on Tuesday. “I’m going to say it this way, I can’t believe inside of me that the player wanted to hit a fan. I can’t believe that is what he wanted to do. But the fact that he was going to hit the ball that hard, if it was lower it would have hit the signboard and it would have ricocheted and came back on the field, delaying a restart.”
“I don’t know if he believed he would get a yellow card because it happened many times throughout the game already,” Vermes explained. “With all due respect, I am not saying it is the referee’s fault, what I am saying is if we are going to change behavior in our league, when it comes to situations like that, we have to be consistent about it all the time.”
Vermes did not want to speculate on what may happen with Kaku, “The fact that he did it, it is something that should not be accepted by our league and it has to be dealt with and I am assuming that is what the league is going to do. That is for them to decide. It has nothing to do with me. I feel really bad for the fan, I am in the process of reaching out personally because I just can’t believe you come to a game, want to watch a game and leave in that state so I feel really bad for him. I just think that the situation will be dealt with.”
When asked what he would do if a Sporting KC player had done something like this, Vermes was quick to respond. “Whether or not something happened to them in the flow of the game, they wouldn’t play. I have dealt with situations like that internally on other things with other players on our team. I just don’t think those things need to be in the game of soccer. It’s just not part of the game.”
Defending the fans
“We are a family here. Not just players, coaches, owners but also fans.” – Ilie Sanchez
It is normal for players to come to the defense of their teammates when there has been a bad tackle, some form of cheap shot or any confrontation in general.
It is not often they need to defend the fans.
Vermes thought his players did the right thing in rushing to defend the fan. “Of course I do, I a hundred percent do. Sometimes that gets a little bit lost, we will probably get a mass confrontation deal or whatever, but sports has emotion. We have to understand that there is also an emotional part of certain situations. Sometimes emotion is real poor, like what occurred. But the response, what would you want them to do, stand around?”
“They are in their home stadium, they are protecting, the fans are a part of us and vice versa. I applaud the fact they went over to deal with the situation. Absolutely.”
“I think the reaction from us, what you saw, speaks for itself in terms of how we felt about it and defending the people that come out to watch us.” – Matt Besler