MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s top division soccer league suspended all games scheduled for Sunday after a massive fan fight during Saturday’s game between host Queretaro and defending champion Atlas de Guadalajara. league.
“We regret and condemn these events, which go against the spirit of our football,” the Mexican Football Federation said in a statement. The suspension affected three matches scheduled for Sunday.
Saturday’s game was suspended in the 62nd minute when several fights broke out in the stands. Security personnel opened the gates to the pitch so that supporters, including women and children, could escape from the stands.
Querétaro state authorities said 23 people remained in hospital. Ten were in serious condition and three others were in critical condition with very serious injuries.
They may be the three men who were seen unconscious or violently beaten to the ground, kicked and punched repeatedly in videos posted on social media.
“What happened yesterday fills me with pain, shame and a lot of rage,” Queretaro Governor Mauricio Kuri said Sunday. “I don’t have words strong enough to condemn the violence, abuse and senselessness of what happened yesterday.”
After the scrum broke out, players from the visiting Atlas quickly fled to the locker room, as did some from the Querétaro side. Other Querétaro players, including Uruguayan goalkeeper Washington Aguerre, remained close to the bench in an attempt to calm the fans down.
After several minutes, some of the fights moved to the field where they continued to punch and kick. Some people were armed with chairs and metal bars.
A fan could be seen pulling a knife to cut the nets off a goal. Others destroyed the bench on one side and some fought through the tunnel to the pitch.
“The darkest day for Mexican football,” headlined the Mexican newspaper El Universal on Sunday.
In fact, violence between gangs of rival soccer fans is commonplace in Mexican stadiums.
Guadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco, and Atlas has also had issues with fan violence recently. Last year, the ‘classic’ with crosstown rival Chivas saw a fight in the stands.
“Unfortunately, what is happening in Queretaro… is happening in my country,” said Rafael Márquez, a former captain of the Mexican national team who started his career with Atlas and later became its coach.
Kuri condemned the violence and said the owners of the Querétaro club should answer for what happened. He also pledged to investigate whether the authorities or anyone else had been negligent in failing to quell the violence.
“I gave instructions for the law to be applied with all its consequences,” he said.
Both teams issued statements condemning the violence.
State authorities said police were on duty at the stadium, but it was largely staffed by private security guards. Video footage of the match suggests the security forces were largely made up of female officers, who tried unsuccessfully to break up the fighting.
“If the company (the football team) does not have enough officers or if they lack training, we will work to hold them accountable,” said Guadalupe Murguía, secretary of state for the interior. .
Large squads of police are assigned to provide security at some soccer games in Mexico.
“Stadium security is a private responsibility, but despite this, I recognize that law enforcement has been insufficient and has not acted with sufficient speed,” Governor Kuri said.
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