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#565: Haiti fans erupt after tying goal is disallowed (fwd)
Published Thursday, September 23, 1999, in the Miami Herald
Haiti fans erupt after tying goal is disallowed
By MICHELLE KAUFMAN
Herald Sports Writer
A ``friendly'' match between the Miami Fusion and the Haitian national
team at Lockhart Stadium on Wednesday night turned very unfriendly with
30 minutes to go when referee Greg Watson disallowed what would have
been a tying Haitian goal, igniting the partisan, festive Haitian
crowd of 12,400 into a bottle-and-garbage-can-throwing frenzy.
More than 50 police officers from three agencies were called to the
scene, according to the Fort Lauderdale police department. One fan was
arrested. Angry fans stormed down the aisles toward the field as both
teams and the officiating crew ran off the field shielded by police. One
fence was damaged. The game was suspended for nearly an hour before team
officials from both sides called it off with the Fusion leading, 1-0.
A rematch is expected to be scheduled for some time in October, but
some Haitian fans said they do not plan to attend. ``I am very
disappointed and insulted by what happened here tonight, and I can
tell you that the Haitian community is not coming back here, even if
they offer it for free,'' said George Louissaint, 38, of Miramar. ``This
is a very disappointed group of people you see here, and we won't forget
this.'' Louissaint's brother, Claude, of Lauderhill, said: ``The Fusion
will not be able to redeem itself from this unfortunate incident. For a
moment, the Miami Fusion had captured not just the Haitians, but others
from the Caribbean community, but due to a lack of cultural sensitivity
and lack of understanding of the game of soccer, they committed a faux
pas that insulted all of us.'' The controversial goal, off a spectacular
scissor-kick by Eddy Cesar, was called good by one of the line judges,
but Watson overruled the call when he deemed a foul had been committed
in the box before the shot. It was unclear on whom the foul was called.
Watson was unavailable for comment after the game.
``That goal was one of the greatest technical achievements a player can
make -- a scissor kick -- and that referee denied a whole community the
chance to savor that moment,'' Claude Louissaint said. ``This event has
destroyed our relationship with the Fusion and the stadium.''
Fusion owner Ken Horowitz, who spent the entire game chatting with
Haitian fans in the stands, was extremely disappointed by the outcome of
the match. ``I wanted to get the refs back out and restart the game,
which is what the fans deserved, but they wouldn't come out,'' Horowitz
said. ``I was applauding the goal when it happened, although I didn't
actually see it from where I was sitting. I was very happy for the Haiti
team, and I was surprised when I saw it didn't count.''
After the match was called, Horowitz boarded the Haitian team bus,
apologized for the incident and was applauded by the Haiitian players.
Horowitz and Haitian assistant coach Nono Baptiste stressed that the
Fusion was not to blame. ``This is not our fault,'' Horowitz said.
``The blame shouldn't be focused on the Fusion. This was a call by a
referee, and we had nothing to do with it. I hope the Haitian community
will understand that.'' Baptiste added: ``It was the referee, Greg
Watson, who spoiled everything. He had officiated a few of our games at
Copa Latina and also made bad calls. I believe he has something against
us. Haitian fans are the nicest people in the
world. We are not hooligans. But we do not take abuse from anyone, and
that was a terrible, shocking call.'' Baptiste hopes the Haitian
community will give the Fusion another chance. ``Right now we're very
emotional, but I will explain to the fans that this was not the
Fusion's fault,'' he said. Fusion midfielder Henry Gutierrez called
Cesar's goal ``one of the nicest goals I've seen this year'' and was
disappointed the match ended the way it did. ``At no point did I feel
physically threatened on the field,'' Gutierrez said. ``I grew
up down here and played in the Gold Coast League against the Haitians
all the time, and they have great fans. Unfortunately, the ref made his
call, and we have to live with it. I was looking forward to the last 30
minutes of the game. But that's the way soccer is. This happens all over
the world.'' The game's lone goal was scored by Eric Wynalda.