Walt Disney World is supposed to be the Happiest Place on Earth. It was anything but for two youth soccer teams.
The championship game of a premier youth soccer tournament at Walt Disney World devolved into an out-of-control melee, with players, parents and even grandparents involved in a brawl. Most strikingly, a grandparent of one player was reportedly punched in the chest, setting off his pacemaker and paving the road to a possible felony assault charge.
According to the Orlando Sentinel and Orlando ABC affiliate WSVN, Orlando FC/QPR Academy was facing off against Pachuca Academy of Miami in the championship match of the Disney Cup International Youth Soccer Tournament. After Orlando FC eked out a close victory, Pachuca athletes reportedly rushed the field and began a violent brawl with their Orlando FC counterparts.
That’s when Miami parents reportedly rushed the field to get in on the brawl, according to the parents of Orlando players who were injured in the fight, as relayed to the Sentinel.
"What made this insane was that the parents cleared the bench," said Matthew Feinberg, whose son Jordan, 16, was treated at Florida Hospital Celebration Health for a concussion and other injuries. "The parents on their team helped their children. They even hit some kids on our team.
"A grandparent was punched in the chest, and his pacemaker went off," Feinberg said. "He was on the ground."
At one point, Jordan Feinberg was reportedly pummeled on the ground by multiple Pachuca players, leading to his eventual hospitalization for a concussion and other effects of the fight. In connection with the attack, the Osceola County Sherriff’s Office recommended filing felony assault charges against one unidentified Pachuca player.
Despite the claims of the violence on the part of the Miami-based Pachuca squad, representatives from that group told the Miami New Times that their players were being maliciously implicated by a source for the original Sentinel story who was a former Sentinel reporter.
Complicating matters further is a claim from the volunteer director of the Pachuca club that the reaction to the brawl is racially based, against the predominantly Hispanic Pachuca squad.
"The goalkeeper who supposedly had a concussion, he initiated the brawl," Pachuca volunteer director Monica Mularski told the New Times. "It was an Orlando [FC] father who first stepped foot onto the field. And the grandfather with the pacemaker actually assaulted three of our players, and they can identify him as well.
"It's very easy to blame it on us. The majority of our players are hispanic, our coach is Hispanic, most of them speak Spanish. We are not going to say that our kids aren't at fault. All parents and kids on that field assaulting one another should be held accountable. We will hold our kids and parents responsible. We are already putting kids on probation. But it's not so one-sided as it appears in that article."
Clearly, there is plenty of blame to go around on both sides from an incident that is as disturbing as it was shocking, both for what happened and where it took place.