KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- At any sporting event, fans expect excitement but also safety.
You might remember an incident at Sporting Kansas City, in which a fan was hit in the face by a ball. The kick came from an opposing player and it was hard enough to knock that fan out.
On Thursday, he shared his story for the first time with KCTV5 News’ Nathan Vickers.
Children's Mercy Park is like a second home for Ron Geoffrion. “I've been going every year,” he said.
He's been a season ticket holder since the days of the Kansas City Wiz, with a front row seat to nearly every home game.
“The crowd is unbelievable in the... the gallery?” he said, pausing. “The Cauldron. I'm sorry, I have a condition.”
Lately, things haven't been the same.
“I get a headache every day,” Geoffrion said. “I just have trouble getting words out.”
They are symptoms of a brain injury.
The moments that led up to it are still clear. Geoffrion and his family were on the front row, cheering on Sporting versus the New York Red Bulls.
“It was an awesome game,” he said. “I still remember it. In the 87th minute, Busio scored a goal, tied up the game.”
The game was all but over, but then New York's Alejandro Romero Gamarra -- known as Kaku -- doesn't get the pass he's looking for. The whistle is blown and the play is dead, but a visibly frustrated Kaku kicks the ball into the stands.
“I'm the fourth person from the stairs in the gray shirt,” Geoffrion said.
He took a direct hit.
“I wasn't looking that way,” he said. “I went instantly out… knocked out completely cold.”
What happened next was a blur and Geoffrion said he doesn’t know what happened in the rest of the game.
In the broadcast you see Geoffrion's family and other fans booing. “My nephew, he's seen standing, too, screaming at Kaku,” he said.
Kaku was ejected and several other players received cautions for the ensuing scuffle.
“As much as I could piece,” Geoffrion, “I came to, did the old pride stuff. 'Aw, it didn't hurt.'”
The blow didn't even break his glasses because he has shatterproof lenses.
However, it soon became clear the damage was on the inside.
“It was strange that all of a sudden the Red Bulls came up and shook my hand, Sporting shook my hand,” he said. “I looked over at my sister and said, 'Sue, did I get hit with the ball?'”
A hard kick from a professional soccer player can travel more than 60 mph. When Geoffrion went to the hospital, he found out he'd suffered a concussion.
Mike DiPasquale is Geoffrion's attorney.
“He was seriously injured as a result of this incident,” he said. “Seriously injured.”
“When you sit in the front row at any sporting event, you don't expect the players to attack you,” DiPasquale said. “That's what happened here.”
He said this is nothing like a foul ball at a baseball game and that the kick was unsportsmanlike from the start.
“This would be akin to a baseball pitcher getting yanked out of a baseball game, running off the field with a baseball in his hands when the ball's not in play, rocketing it into the stands and injuring a fan,” DiPasquale said.
The MLS suspended Kaku for three games and fined him an undisclosed amount.
“You hear the backstory on Ron,” DiPasquale said. “It's turned his life upside-down.”
Geoffrion, a computer engineer, hasn't been able to return work. “My biggest fear is losing the ability to do my job,” he said.
“I'm going to therapy two to three times a week,” he said. “Motion therapy and cognitive therapy.”
The Red Bulls sent Geoffrion some merchandise and a card. It said:
We wanted you to know we are sorry about the unfortunate incident you experienced and we are thinking of you.
The New York Red Bulls.”
At the time of the incident, Kaku apologized on Twitter and his club issued this statement:
“The New York Red Bulls organization does not condone the type of behavior displayed near the end of Sunday night’s match in Kansas City. We hold everyone in our organization to a high standard of conduct."
When KCTV5 News followed up with the club and the league this week, they told us they had nothing to add.
DiPasquale hasn't filed a lawsuit yet, but he has asked the Red Bulls and MLS for a meeting. So far, it hasn't happened.
“He deserves the dignity of the response and the respect from the league, the team and the player,” DiPasquale said. “There's been an irresponsible response by the responsible parties.”
Geoffrion doesn't blame Sporting, but on that day one of their opponents may have altered his entire life.
“Kansas City's not at fault,” he said. “I don't want to be vindictive, but the penalties to doing that to fans should be increased so that it doesn't happen again.”
He doesn't want to see someone else get hurt from a player's frustration.