Rowdy San Diego Soccer Players Cause Flight To Make Unexpected Stop
A half-dozen soccer players who were allegedly disruptive on a Southwest flight from San Diego to Chicago, forcing the plane to make an unexpected stop in Texas, were charged with interfering with a flight crew, federal authorities said Tuesday.
The athletes were headed to Midway International in Chicago on Monday night for a soccer tournament, but Flight 1522 made an unscheduled landing at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport in Amarillo, Texas, according to airline officials.
Texas authorities were waiting to arrest the athletes when the plane landed.
Other passengers on the flight said six of the team's players were arguing with a flight attendant who wouldn't serve the men more alcohol when the incident escalated. The men allegedly began arguing with a passenger seated behind them.
Saiman Hermez, 19, Jonathan Khalid Petras, 20, Ghazwan Asaad Shaba, 21, Essa Solaqa, 20, Khalid Yohana, 19, and Wisam Imad Shaker, 23 — all from San Diego — are scheduled to appear in federal court in Amarillo Wednesday.
According to the criminal complaint, the six defendants, who were sitting together on the plane, were disruptive on the flight and did not comply with instructions.
They initially refused to put their seat backs and tray tables up. Later, when a flight attendant asked all of them to quiet down, the men responded that they could be as loud as they wanted, according to the complaint.
When a flight attendant said they could not be disruptive, the defendants allegedly leaned forward in their seats and said, "We can do whatever we want on here."
According to the complaint, the defendants were repeatedly standing up and becoming increasingly louder and attempted to incite other passengers to join their non-compliant behavior.
Because of the increasing escalation of loud and aggressive behavior, a flight attendant said she was in fear for the safety of the crew and passengers and asked the pilots to divert the aircraft.
A passenger heard the defendants call the flight attendant who refused to serve them alcohol a racist and a pig, the complaint alleges.