Uruguay soccer leaders quit in fan violence crisis

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 31, 2014 at 5:59 pm •  Published: March 31, 2014

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — Uruguayan soccer has lost its leadership with little more than two months before its national team is to compete in the World Cup.

The entire executive committee of the Uruguayan Football Association quit Monday in a crisis that also involves President Jose Mujica and the football players union.

"It seems nonsensical to me that the executive committee resigns two months before the World Cup, because the big loser here could be the national team," Edgar Welker, vice president of the Penarol soccer team, told The Associated Press.

Uruguay's clubs will try to designate a temporary committee to lead the country's soccer until the end of the World Cup, Welker said, adding that the crisis should not affect the leadership of the national team's coach, Oscar Washington Tabarez.

The crisis blew up when Mujica abruptly withdrew police protection Thursday from the home stadiums of Penarol and Nacional, the most popular teams in Uruguay, after Nacional fans injured 40 police officers in postgame violence the night before.

"We Uruguayans cannot continue in this irrationality, accepting human stupidity. We need to react urgently," the president said.

Uruguay's soccer federation and its clubs decided to play Saturday's games anyway, but the players pulled out Sunday, saying they wouldn't be safe without police in the stadiums.

After all five leaders of the federation's executive committee quit Monday, the country's leading newspaper, El Pais, raised the question of whether the development could threaten Uruguay's participation in the World Cup, which begins June 13 in Brazil.