Football / World Cup USA '94: Trouble in the streets

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE FIRST incident of crowd trouble at the World Cup arose outside Los Angeles on Tuesday night after Mexico had secured the top place in Group E by drawing 1-1 with Italy.

The trouble occurred in Huntington Park, a town four miles from Los Angeles, whose population of 85,000 is 97 per cent Hispanic. A reported 4,000 people took to the streets to celebrate, blocking traffic and throwing rocks and bottles at the police.

A three-year-old girl was treated by paramedics after being hit by a bottle and several police officers suffered minor injuries. The Mexico fans became violent after police tried to keep them on the pavement during the celebration. It took the police about three hours to restore control.

In Mexico City, one person died and another was seriously injured as the rejoicing got out of hand. The injured man was dancing on top of a speeding bus when he fell off. At least 80 people were injured and more than 18 were detained in hospital. Eyewitnesses spoke of a mob of more than 100 youths rampaging along streets smashing car and shop windows.

In the main, though, the celebrations were peaceful, with the 12-lane Paseo de la Reforma in the centre of the city becoming a two-mile long party.

Scenes in Rome, by contrast, were muted after Italy scraped into the second phase in third place. 'It would have been better if we had been put out of our misery,' a Rome taxi driver said. Another disgruntled fan added: 'The whole team should be brought home to play table football.'

South Korea's goalkeeper and captain, Choi In-young, has retired after letting in three goals in the first half against Germany and being substituted at half-time. 'It's all over for me as an international. Those three goals will haunt me forever,' he said.