5 Sports Rivalries That Escalated Into Murder

5 Sports Rivalries That Escalated Into Murder

In certain extreme circumstances, killing may be justified. For example, suppose that on a subway car, a bunch of pumped-up passengers are chanting, “Let’s — go — Red — Sox,” followed by rhythmic clapping. Then when they stop, one lone dissenter yells, “Let’s — go — Yankees.” If the crowd all now kill him, no police officer would intervene, and in the unlikely event that one does, no jury would convict anyone involved. 

Sports fandoms can get intense. This is all perfectly normal, according to the fans themselves, leading to such notable incidents as the time that...

Colombian Vigilantes Executed an Underperforming Player

Colombia had high hopes going into the 1994 World Cup. During the last qualifying match, they merely needed to tie to move forward, but they instead beat their opponents 5-0. The team was led by captain Andrés Escobar, and if the words “Colombia” and “Escobar” make you think about a certain drug lord, know that Andrés was no relative of Pablo Escobar and had no connections to organized crime. 

A couple games into the World Cup, Andrés Escobar kicked the ball into his team’s own goal. He didn’t mean to, of course — an opponent on the American team had kicked the ball in that general direction, and Escobar meant to kick it away from the goal, not right into it — but the ball went in, scoring a goal for the other team. Colombia lost that match 2 to 1 and were out of the tournament. 

Back home in Colombia five days later, Escobar went drinking at a bar. A group of four gathered around him and mocked his error in that game. He left to get into his car, the guys followed him and he started to drive away — but then he came back to explain himself. Once again, his attempt at defense backfired, and the men took out guns and fired at him a dozen times. After every shot, the men called out, “Goal!”

One man went to jail for the murder. This guy, Humberto Muñoz, had indeed worked for Pablo Escobar before switching to an offshoot gang. According to Andrés’ coach, the murder had nothing to do with the game. Andrés had simply been “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” This is sort of true, in that if he’d been on a different spot of the field during the U.S. match, the men wouldn’t have later killed him. 

One Hockey Fight Death Was Officially Declared a Homicide

Dozens of hockey players have died on the ice, and we could do an article on every one of them. But today, let’s just tell you about the very first recorded death, which happened on February 24, 1905. 

Canadian player Alcide Laurin, 24, got into a fight on the ice with a 19-year-old opponent, Allan Loney. The ref blew the whistle on them, and the fight continued. By the time of the final blows, Laurin’s stick was broken, and he was bending down to pick the pieces up. Loney now whacked at his head with his own stick, breaking his skull in five places and caving the skull in half an inch. 

Alcide Laurin trial

Montreal Daily Star

At the trial, the prosecutor wielded a hockey stick, looking like Death himself.

Authorities charged Loney with homicide, because he’d killed a guy, while a whole crowd looked on. Then they reconsidered and switched the charge to manslaughter. Then, at the trial, a jury found him not guilty of that. The two men had been in the middle of a fight, and when that happens, neither one can be found responsible for killing the other if that’s what transpires. And anyway, as the defense attorney said, “A manly nation needs manly games,” and there is no nation more manly than Canada. 

Someone Shot Up the Cleveland Guardians’ Bus

We don’t know who fired a gun at the Cleveland Guardians’ bus in September 2004. Maybe it was a fan of the Kansas City Royals. Royals fans tend to be a die-hard bunch. Whatever the motive, bullets entered the bus, and one hit pitcher Kyle Denney. Here is a picture approximating what Denney looked like at the time:

USC Cheerleader


Confused? So were the Guardians, by the bullets.

That’s because, at the time, Denney was dressed as a cheerleader from the University of Southern California. This was part of a rookie hazing ritual, and it proved fortuitous. As part of the getup, Denney wore high white boots — not pictured in the above photo, so you’ll have to use your imagination for that part — and the bullet struck him on one of those boots. It still penetrated the armor and entered his calf, but the damage would have been more severe without the boots.

This protection was ironic because the uniform was supposed to humiliate him, not protect him. Humiliate him, of course, because it represented the University of Southern California, while Denney himself was from Oklahoma. 

The Barbershop Neck Chop

Things got a little weird at Dallas Cowboys training camp in 1998. The way it started, allegedly, was the Cowboys’ Everett McIver plopped into a barber chair, and then Michael Irvin yelled, “Seniority!” and tried to expel him. Irwin might have had seniority over McIver, but he didn’t have much, and so, McIver stayed put.

After the berating continued (“Punk, get the fuck out of my chair”), McIver did get up — to shove Irwin. They exchanged a few more shoves, McIver threw a punch, and then Irwin went a step further. Allegedly, he picked up a pair of barber’s scissors and stabbed Irwin in the neck. The jagged cut missed his artery, which is why it didn’t kill him. 

barber’s scissors

Calitri Sponz Fest

This angered the barber, as it blunted the blade.

When the matter came to court, however, the judge concluded something different had happened from the account here. The tussle had been “a little wrestling match,” and Irvin had stabbed McIver accidentally, just happening to have scissors in his hands already. The players now described it this way, even if they said something different in private later. “Getting your stories straight” is the ultimate team-building activity. 

A Ref Stabbed a Player, and Then Things Got Crazier

Up next is another fight that turned into a stabbing, and this time, there was little dispute over what happened. An entire crowd of spectators witnessed the incident. This happened in June 2013, in Maranhao in Brazil, where referee Otávio da Silva was overseeing a soccer game. He ordered a player named Josenir Abreu off the field, and the guy refused to obey. So, they fought, physically. 

No referee could blow the whistle on this fight because the referee was participating. Then the ref ended the fight using a tool other than a whistle: a knife that he withdrew from his pocket. He stabbed Abreu. The player was now carted off toward the hospital but died on the way.

Otávio Jordão da Silva

via Facebook

Here’s a pic of the ref, not the player, because of what happened next.

Fans of Abreu in the stands did not take this sitting down. No, they now stormed the field. They tied da Silva up and stoned him to death. Then they cut his body apart (everyone carried blades in this town, it seemed), removing his legs and decapitating him. His head, they placed on a spike. Footage exists of this

If there are any crazed Little League parents reading this, who take pride in merely threatening to murder the umpire... you really need to step up your game. 

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