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Real passion becomes Real fight



While Real Salt Lake celebrated its stunning last-minute 3-2 win against the Portland Timbers on Saturday night, for a few who attended the previous week's match against Chivas U.S.A., a shadow cast by fan violence may still have lingered.---

According to an article in OK Espanol's Saturday edition and Sandy Police Department media liaison Sgt. Jon Arnold, members of Barra Real clashed with local supporters of Chivas U.S.A.

The incident began when Chivas' fans walked through Real's supporter enclosure and were "being disrespectful," Arnold says. Members of Barra Real, allegedly including founder and president Luis Castro, featured in a 2009 City Weekly profile of Real's fan base, which you could read here, followed them. Real fans broke some of Chivas' musical instruments. "It escalated, got physical," Arnold says.

Two Chivas fans were hurt and Castro was arrested and cited for assault. He bailed out shortly after being arrested.

Castro denied any involvement in the altercation in a phone interview with OK Espanol.

"Any time you get individuals where there's rivalry, I understand that things can get passionate," Arnold says. In this case, though, passion spilled over into violence. How supporters' groups are organized in the various assembly areas directly around the stadium, "is something Real will have to take a look at."

Real's public-affairs director Trey Fitzgerald says no decision as yet has been reached regarding disciplinary actions against Castro. He cautioned against the incident coloring Barra Real as a group.

Since its formation in 2009, Barra Real has been a colorful and vocal presence with its drums, trombones, flags and Real-donated smoke machine dominating the north end of the stadium previous seasons. It saw one group splinter away to form Union Real in 2010. 

The fight comes at a time when Real has worked hard, with its new anthem "Believe," to bring vocal coherence to the multitude of fan groups that follow the team. "We've spent a lot of time trying to unify everybody when they are in the [stadium]," Fitzgerald says. When Real goes on the road, it can face disparate groups of opposition supporters who are nevertheless united powerfully by song and chants. Real hopes "Believe" will bring that unity to the Sandy stadium. While early in the season, "We've taken massive strides," he says.

There have been a "handful" of fan-driven confrontations over Real's history, Fitzgerald notes. One man at the end of a game last season jumped a wall and ran in what was seen as a "threatening" manner towards referees and players, he says. He was subsequently banned for life.

"To the extent that the [ongoing police] investigation reveals the involvement and intent of particular individuals, they were be dealt with harshly," Fitzgerald says.

Editor's note: reporter Dark's wife edits OK Espanol.