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Red Bulls’ Kaku red-carded after booting ball into stands, hitting fan

Apr 14, 2019; Kansas City, KS, USA; New York Red Bulls forward Alejandro Romero Gamarra (10) reacts after receiving a red card during the second half against Sporting KC at Children's Mercy Park. (Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — An ugly scene capped Sunday’s 2-2 draw between Sporting Kansas City and the New York Red Bulls. During second-half stoppage time, moments after Kansas City’s equalizer from Gianluca Busio, New York’s Kaku stepped to a ball rolling near the sideline, drew his leg back and booted it hard into the stands.

On the receiving end was a fan sitting in the front row. The ball hit the man in his face, and he went down immediately.

A near-brawl erupted near the spot, after several Sporting Kansas City players sprinted toward Kaku. It took several minutes to separate all the players, and the referee eventually went to video review. 

The official red-carded Kaku, sending him to the locker room early to a chorus of boos. After the match, the fan was still being tended to in the stands by medical personnel. Several players from both teams hopped over the field boards to check on the fan. Kansas City defender Andreu Fontas took off his jersey and gave it to him. He was close to the initial incident, and said that he saw how hard the ball hit him.

“Oh my gosh, I was so close, and it was a very, very, very hard ball, and it just gets in his face,” Fontas said. “I felt very bad for him, because he was here to enjoy. … He doesn’t deserve this, no. I went after to give my jersey after because I felt very bad for him, for his people, for sure worried that he was all right.”

The fan was eventually taken to a conference room at Children’s Mercy Park, according to an SKC spokesperson. He was alert, but had a bloody nose. 

“That cannot happen,” SKC midfielder Ilie Sanchez said. “You cannot have any excuse to do that. … I think every one of us talked to him. He didn’t expect that ball coming. He didn’t even see it. … That cannot happen.”

After the match, Kaku sent out several tweets apologizing, saying “As a competitor I was frustrated with myself and took out my frustrations in a way that is not acceptable.”

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