Mar 7, 2022 - Sports

Fan riot leads to suspension of Mexican soccer league

A flower and beer left as an altar near one of the entrances to Estadio Corregidora.

A flower and beer left as an altar near one of the entrances to Estadio Corregidora. Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Soccer fandom turned barbaric on Saturday in what is being called the "darkest day" in the history of Mexican soccer.

Driving the news: A match between Liga MX clubs Atlas and Querétaro was abruptly suspended in the second half after a riot broke out in the stands and spilled onto the field.

  • Fans attacked each other with knives, chairs, metal poles and other objects. Horrifying footage appeared to show people being beaten to death, or close.
  • Blame has fallen mostly on hard-core Querétaro fans known as "barras bravas," or fierce gangs, per the L.A. Times (subscription), which notes that most, if not all, hospitalized fans were Atlas supporters.
  • Guadalajara-based Atlas is the reigning league champion. Querétaro, based 226 miles to the east, has never finished better than sixth.

What they're saying: There are conflicting reports about how many people were injured or killed at Querétaro's Estadio Corregidora, which hosted World Cup games in 1986.

Yes, but: Local journalists have said at least 17 people died and far more than 26 were injured. Videos of bloodied and unconscious bodies, plus reports of missing people, suggest there were fatalities.

Where it stands: Liga MX canceled games scheduled for Sunday and Tuesday and league president Mikel Arriolla has promised an investigation and possible sanctions.

  • The investigation will likely examine why there were only 600 security personnel in a stadium that holds 34,000 people.
  • As for sanctions, consider this: When a 2012 riot in an Egyptian soccer stadium left 74 dead, the government shut down the league for two years.

The big picture: This unthinkable tragedy has sent shockwaves throughout the sport. Mexico is set to co-host the 2026 World Cup with the U.S. and Canada, and MLS has a close relationship with Liga MX.

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