Two cited for fracas at soccer match

Two teen-aged, Petaluma soccer players are facing criminal charges after a scuffle at a soccer game Sunday in Sonoma.

The game was between U-16 boys teams from Sonoma Valley Youth Soccer and Petaluma Youth Soccer at the Sonoma Valley High School soccer field. During the fracas, a Sonoma youth, who had been knocked to the ground, was kicked in the head and suffered a concussion, and a referee who went to check on the youth was pushed to the ground.

Sgt. Dave Thompson, with the Sonoma Police Department, said a 14-year-old male, from Petaluma, was cited for felony battery with serious bodily injury and battery on a person on school grounds, while a 16-year-old Petaluma male was cited for battery on a sports official and battery on a person on school grounds.

Thompson said police responded to a call about a group of people fighting at about 1:15 p.m. Sunday. But by the time police arrived, most of the people involved had left.

“We did find a 14-year-old youth who had been kicked in the head and had an ice pack on his head,” Thompson said. The youth was taken by ambulance to Sonoma Valley Hospital for treatment.

Thompson said one youth was tackled which led to some pushing and shoving among the players. The referee was pushed when she went to check on the youth who had been kicked in the head.

He said parents rushed onto the field to try to quell the situation, but Tom Young, the president of the Sonoma Valley Youth Soccer, said the parents on both sides of the field had been “chirping” for quite a while.

“It started with a hard foul,” said Young who was nearby. “It was four guys at first and the parents decided to break it up. But before that, there was a lot of barking by the parents.”

Young estimated that the fracas lasted “maybe five seconds.”

“It was a tight game and there was a lot of negative talk around the field,” he said. “Fourteen- and 15-year-old boys feed on that sort of thing. It took forever to calm the parents. If the adults had cooler heads, this could have been prevented.”

“We had parents yelling at parents,” he continued. “They were barking back-and-forth.”

Young said Sonoma Valley Youth Soccer has a no-tolerance policy.

“We don’t put up with this,” he said. “We would suspend our players and the length (of the suspension) would depend on the severity (of the offense).”He called the incident, “unfortunate.”

Bill Bertolucci, president of the Petaluma Youth Soccer League, echoed Young’s thoughts calling it “a very unfortunate incident.”

He said he’s not happy and was shocked at what happened. “This went way too far,” he said.

In a prepared release, Bertolucci said, “This past weekend, a PYSL Under-16 Recreational Boys team played a Sonoma Valley Youth Soccer Association (SVYSA) team. Unfortunately, multiple players from both sides ended up in a fight. We are very sad, disappointed and embarrassed by this occurrence, although we firmly believe that this was an isolated incident and is not a true representation of either club. We do not condone violence or unsportsmanlike behavior in any sport, and we sincerely apologize for this incident. We shall convene a Protests, Appeals and Disciplinary (PAD) Committee to impose disciplinary action and sanctions as deemed appropriate following a complete review of this incident.”

The police department is still investigating the incident, said Sgt. Thompson.

“We don’t want this sort of stuff happening,” Thompson said. “We won’t tolerate it.”

Thompson said the police department is still looking for photos and/or tape of the incident. Anyone who has photos or especially a video can contact Deputy K. Burris at the Sonoma Police Department, at 996-3602.