Corinthians says teen fan's death an accident
SAO PAULO (AP) — The death in the stands of a 14-year-old boy during Corinthians' match in Bolivia was an accident and the team and its fans weren't to blame, the president of the Brazilian club said on Thursday.
Bolivian Kevin Beltran Espada was killed after he was hit in the face by a flare apparently thrown by someone in the Corinthians fan section during a Copa Libertadores match against San Jose on Wednesday.
Twelve Corinthians fans were arrested and remain in custody in the city of Oruro, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of La Paz.
Club president Mario Gobbi doesn't think Corinthians or its fans should be held responsible.
"You either have proof that someone used the flare with the intention to hit a person, or it's a fatality," Gobbi said. "From what I have seen so far it appears to have been an accident, something that didn't happen on purpose."
Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo released a statement calling the fan violence "unacceptable" and asking for harsh punishment.
"I'd like to express my deepest sorrow for the death of the Bolivian youngster," he said. "The Sports Ministry is waiting for the results of the investigation so there can be exemplary punishment for those responsible."
The South American football federation said it wants the Bolivian federation to issue a thorough report on what happened at Jesus Bermudez Stadium so it can decide whether to punish Corinthians, which is the tournament's defending champion and the world club champion.
"CONMEBOL, and especially president Nicolas Leoz, laments the death of the 14-year-old," federation spokesman Nestor Benitez told The Associated Press. "The loss of life is always painful, even more because it happened in a football environment where people just wanted to enjoy a Copa Libertadores match."
Sports Photo Galleriesview all
- 14439Oklahoma tornadoes: The 'Big Dog,' the little boy and the hug that triumphs over tragedy
- 9547Finding Addyson – One family's struggle in the Moore tornado
- 7937Oklahoma tornadoes: Cost, custom keep basements scarce
- 7761Oklahoma tornadoes: Plaza Towers Elementary School teacher shoved students into bathroom as wall collapsed
- 6962Oklahoma tornadoes: Woman meets the military officer who shared the clothes off his back
- 6428Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill to join Blake Shelton at "Healing in the Heartland" Oklahoma tornado benefit
- 6287Story behind the photo: Family members describe desperate search for one another after EF5 twister