BELIZE CITY, Wed. Mar. 9, 2022– Mexico’s top division football league, Liga MX, suspended all its matches scheduled for Sunday, March 13, after a brawl among fans that occurred on Saturday, March 5 between the home team, Queretaro, and Atlas from Guadalajara, the reigning league champion, led to 26 persons being injured, as well as the deaths of a number of fans—reportedly 17 of them—although those reports are unconfirmed.
At the 62nd minute of the match, the play was suspended when numerous fights broke out in the stands. Security personnel reportedly opened the gates to the field so that fans, including women and children, could escape from the stands. After the brawl broke out, players from the visiting Atlas fled to the locker rooms, as did some members of the Queretaro team. Other Queretaro players, including Uruguayan goalie Washington Aguerre, stayed near the bench and tried to calm the fans. The brawl reportedly intensified and spread from the stands onto the field, where one fan was seen cutting the opposing team’s net with a knife.
It is believed the brawl started between fans of the rivaling football teams—something that often occurs in Mexican stadiums. Guadalajara is the capital of Jalisco state, and Atlas has also had issues recently with violence among its fans. Last year, there was also a brawl in the stands during a “classic” with crosstown rival Chivas.
According to ESPN.com, at least 26 people were injured, and, according to unconfirmed reports, up to 17 persons reportedly lost their lives. Also, Queretaro state authorities mentioned that 23 persons are hospitalized; ten in serious condition and three others in critical condition with severe injuries. State authorities in north-central Mexico suspended five officials, including police, civil defense employees, and three people responsible for planning and preparations, for failing to restore order. Mauricio Kuri Queretaro, state governor, reported however that there were no deaths but calls the brawl a tragedy.
He said that of the 26 injured, 3 have been discharged, 3 are in a very critical condition, another 10 are in a delicate state and the remaining 10 are in a stable state.
The Mexican Football Federation announced Tuesday that Queretaro would have to play all home games behind closed doors for a year as punishment for its role in the brawl. The club will also be fined 1.5 million pesos (about USD $70,000) and lose Saturday’s match 3-0, it said.
Arrest warrants were issued by a judge for several persons who were suspected of taking part in the melee and were identified through news footage and social media images.
In a release issued by the Football Federation of Belize (FFB), the federation stated, “Following the tragic incident which took place yesterday after the match between Queretaro and Atlas, the Football Federation of Belize condemns all acts of violence.” It added, “President Sergio Chuc on behalf of the FFB has also reached out to President Yon de Lusia to send condolences and prayers for all those affected during this tragic incident.”