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Rodrigo Bentancur just had a very bad night at the Copa America

If you were already mad at Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur for his ill-advised and racist remark about Son Heung-Min and south Asian people a few weeks ago, you’re probably not going to be real happy reading this article. Lolo had, let’s just say it straight, an awful, awful time last night at the Bank of America Stadium.
Uruguay bowed out of the Copa America last night in Charlotte, NC, losing 0-1 to a ten-man Colombia squad that made its first major international final in 23 years and will face Cuti Romero and Gio Lo Celso’s Argentina in the final this Sunday. In the process, Lolo was injured after colliding with his own teammate and was forced out of the match in the 34th minute. There currently aren’t any updates on the status of Bentancur’s injury, though it looked nasty at the time.
To make matters worse, after the final whistle Uruguayan players, led by Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez, charged into the stands to fight with Colombian players who had bypassed security and, according to the Uruguayan players, egressed into a section where the Uruguay players’ families were located, harrassing them.
There’s video. It’s not pleasant viewing.

After defeat to Colombia, Uruguayan players entered the stands at Bank of America Stadium and began to throw punches. Liverpool forward Darwin Nunez amongst those at the forefront. — Kyle Bonn (@the_bonnfire) July 11, 2024

Darwin was viewed as one of the main instigators in the brawl, leading the way into the stands to brawl with the Colombian fans. Darwin was later caught on video charging at the crowd while holding a metal chair — real Ron Artest “Malice at the Palace” stuff. But for purposes of this blog, the real kicker is that Bentancur can be seen in the background of the embedded video throwing a glass water bottle into the crowd of people.
According to Alasdair Gold in Football.London, Bentancur’s bottle actually struck an Uruguayan team staffer in the side of the head, dizzying and bloodying him. Bentancur apparently threw two bottles into the stands during the fracas and will almost certainly face scrutiny by CONMEBOL and possibly FIFA for his actions, along with Nunez and other Uruguayan players.
Uruguay captain Jose Maria Gimenez later commented to the media, as reported to The Athletic, that the players felt as though their families were in danger.

“Colombian fans in a certain section descended on all our families. They won’t let us speak on the microphone. This is a disaster, our families were in danger. We had to rush into the stands to remove our loved ones with tiny newborn babies.
“It’s a total disaster. There wasn’t a single police officer. They showed up half an hour later. A disaster. And we were there, standing up for ourselves, for our loved ones.”

If Gimenez’s assertions are true, and I have little difficulty believing his story, it adds some important context to the clash, but not much absolution. As Spurs fans saw a couple of years ago when Eric Dier charged into the crowd to confront a Tottenham supporter who was antagonizing his brother’s family, footballers are extremely protective of their loved ones who attend matches with their families. South American international football also sadly isn’t a stranger to spicy matches in competitions like the Copa America and World Cup qualifiers, and both Colombia and Uruguay have a history of bad fan behavior. This is also clearly a major security failure at the Bank of America Stadium and that shouldn’t be ignored either. But you’re a football player, you simply can’t just rush into the crowd and start throwing hands at fans.
CONMEBOL, predictably, put out a mealy-mouthed statement condemning “any act of violence” in the wake of the incident, though there will surely be investigations coming. It’s not the first time that Rodrigo Bentancur has been in the news, either — as mentioned earlier, Lolo is still under investigation by the FA after he made a racist comment (what he later called a “bad joke”) about his teammate Son Heung-Min and how South Korean people look the same. Bentancur could face sanctions or even a playing ban for that from the FA, and this latest incident could potentially see something similar from either or both CONMEBOL for FIFA, should the world football body decide to get involved.
As a Tottenham fan and as a human being, I’m frankly fed up with Lolo, and I would imagine that Spurs probably are as well. I can understand getting caught up in an emotional moment when you’re scared for the safety of your loved ones. But it’s still very hard to justify going into stands to fight with opposition fans in almost any circumstance, and Bentancur reacting by throwing objects into the crowd is just flat-out hooligan stuff and unconscionable behavior.
I have to say, I’m almost done with him as a Spurs player. His “apology” to Sonny and to those he offended through his racist comment was meager at best, and he’s fortunate that Son, at least publicly, was generous enough to let that water go under the bridge. What happened last night in Charlotte is just as bad, but in a different way, as it moves from inappropriate comments to violence.
It’s awful. I’m at the point where I wouldn’t mind if Tottenham decided to sell Bentancur and replace him with another midfielder for next season, as I really can’t justify his actions over the past few weeks at all. Lolo came back into Tottenham’s team last season after a long injury layoff (thanks Matty Cash) and never really hit the levels he had shown prior to that injury, so Spurs were somewhat banking on him getting back to peak playing strength with the benefit of additional time. But that was always something of a long bet, and the past few weeks have made it clear he’s not especially the kind of player I’d like to have at my football club. And even if Spurs do want to sell him, the severity of the injury he picked up during last night’s match is unknown and could be detrimental to any potential buying club.
No matter what, Bentancur’s speed-run to the bottom of the PR table has been... well, impressive is one word you could use to describe it. Now we’ll just have to wait to see what the fallout will be.

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