Soccer team awaits fallout from brawl

Two soccer teams, including one from Camp Verde, face possible suspension after a brawl on a field in Flagstaff. The teams are part of the AYSO Under 19-year-old League and were playing on a Foxglen Park field June 16.

AYSO official Bill Gaud said the League Commissioner is going to address the board about the brawl at the AYSO board's July 18 meeting in Flagstaff. Gaud declined comment on whether either team has been suspended or reinstated. He said each coach has received a letter from AYSO.

According to the police report and witness statements, the stories differ among players from Camp Verde and those from the Grand Canyon team. What is clear is that the struggle was much more than angry words. Referees say that they would normally handle any scuffle among teams, but in this case a parent got involved and was allegedly throwing punches at players.

The chief referee, John Bond, told a responding police officer the incident started after the ball went out of bounds at the end of the second quarter.

A girl member of the Grand Canyon team, in a witness statement, said the Camp Verde team had directed "cheap shots" at her team throughout the game.

Camp Verde coach David Miller said it was when a player from Grand Canyon struck one of his players behind the head that both teams got into a shouting match.

At that point, the Grand Canyon player's father "went out of control," according to the referee, "and was hitting kids." Bond told police that he witnessed the parent strike two players "in the head or face and was behaving aggressively toward others."

The girl player on the Grand Canyon team, who is related to the "out of control" parent Filiberto Saavedre, said the Grand Canyon team "defended themselves during the pileup" but that no parents hit any players.

One Camp Verde player told the officer that the parent swung at him but did not connect. He said the man chased the boy down the sidelines.

A second Camp Verde player reported that he was struck in the face by Saavedre and had a swollen red spot on his forehead that the officer identified as consistent with "blunt force."

A third Verde Valley player told the officer he was struck two times, but had no obvious bruising, according to the report.

The referee said that the scuffle started when the Grand Canyon player threw a punch and Camp Verde players responded. He said the officials "are trying to stop things and then this parent jumps in and starts attacking kids."

Assistant referee Mark Statham said he had asked the parent to remain and talk to police, but he refused, and the soccer official wrote down his license plate number.

The police found the angry parent at the Emergency Room of the hospital where he had taken his 16-year-old son.

Saavedre claimed that he came onto the field to disperse the crowd and throw them off his son, but he said he did not hit anyone.

The boy said that he was scratched twice during the fight and that somebody hit him in the back of the head and he had three chipped teeth after the brawl.

The game had to be called because of the fight. Statham, the assistant referee, said both teams would likely be suspended because of the fight.

Police pressed no charges against the adult.


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