Uruguay captain Jose Maria Gimenez said his players were trying to defend their families from violent fans.

Uruguay's players argue with fans at the end of a Copa America semifinal soccer match against Colombia in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)
Uruguay’s players argue with fans at the end of a Copa America semifinal against Colombia in Charlotte, North Carolina, the United States [Julia Nikhinson/AP]

Uruguay’s football players clashed with Colombia fans following their Copa America semifinal defeat, and security personnel had to step in to restore order.

After Colombia sealed a 1-0 victory in Charlotte, North Carolina in the US on Wednesday, videos on social media showed what appeared to be Uruguay players climbing into the stands and exchanging blows with opposition fans.

The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBO) said it is investigating the incident and that it strongly condemns any acts of violence that affect football.

“Our work is based on the conviction that soccer connects and unites us through its positive values,” said CONMEBOL, the governing body for regional football.

“There is no place for intolerance and violence on and off the field.”

Uruguay’s Darwin Nunez and Ronald Araujo were among the players at the forefront of the melee. Captain Jose Maria Gimenez said the players were trying to defend their families.

“Let me say something before they cut you off because they won’t let us speak into the microphone, they don’t want me to say anything about what’s going on but this is a disaster,” Gimenez said on the official broadcast.

“Please be careful, our families are in the stands, there are little newborn babies. It was a disaster; there was no police and we had to defend our families.

“This is the fault of two or three people who had a few too many drinks and don’t know how to drink.”

Players and staff from both Colombia and Uruguay were also involved in a confrontation on the field after the final whistle.

“I thought that the incident ended with some argument on the midfield and when I saw that happening I went to the locker room,” Uruguay coach Marcelo Bielsa said in a press conference.

“I thought that they were thanking the fans for their support. But then I learned that there were some problems over there, unfortunately.”

Jefferson Lerma’s first-half header gave Colombia a place in Sunday’s final while Uruguay will play Canada in the third-place playoff.