Honduras football riots leave three dead and three players injured

The derby match in the capital city Tegucigalpa between Motagua and Olimpia -- bitter opponents -- turned ugly after the bus carrying members of the Motagua team was attacked ahead of the match at the national stadium.

The bus was pelted with stones and other missiles, leaving three players, former Celtic star Emilio Izaguirre, Jonathan Rougier and Roberto Moreira needing hospital treatment for facial wounds.

"Bottles, stones were thrown at us and the players threw themselves on the floor screaming," Motagua coach Diego Vasquez was quoted in local media.

Following the incident, the match was canceled, but several thousand fans were already inside the stadium when the decision was made, sparking frantic scenes with many being caught up in tear gas fired by local police as they left in a hurry.

The violent clashes both inside and outside the stadium left a string of casualties, confirmed by Julieth Chavarría, a spokesman for Hospital Escuela in Tegucigalpa.

She told AFP that "seven people were admitted, three of them died and four are still being treated in the emergency room."

In a post on social media, Motagua showed pictures of its players also receiving treatment in the hospital after the attack on the bus, which it blamed on members of the Ultra-Faithful wing of the Olimpia fan club.

The 33-year-old Izaguirre, who rejoined Motagua after winning seven Scottish Premier League titles with Celtic, later reassured fans on his Instagram account that he had not been seriously injured, but revealed his anguish at the loss of life.

"Thank God I am fine," he said.

"There were bits of glass that flew into an eye, but I've been told it is nothing serious and there is no lasting damage.

"The painful thing for me is the deceased. We are all Hondurans, no matter what team you support, we all must have respect for our fellow human beings," he added.

Security had been tight for the clash of two major clubs in Honduran football and the first for Olimpia against Motagua under new coach Pedro Troglio -- with police deploying around 5,000 officers in and outside the stadium.

The Olimpia Ultra-Faithful wing, blamed for violent clashes in the past, was also banned from entering the stadium.

Motagua, which labeled the attacks "lamentable and reprehensible" is calling for tough action from the Honduran football authorities after the shameful scenes.

The scheduled match was a fixture in the Apertura Championship in Honduras, with Olimpia joint top after four rounds.

Back in June, it was Motagua which prevailed, beating its arch-rival 1-0 in the national stadium to clinch the Clausura Championship.