Fútbol in Mexico was dealt another blow this past weekend when a massive fight broke out between fans during a Liga MX match between Querétaro F.C. and Atlas F.C., which left several people injured. Some media outlets and witnesses are reporting deaths.
The brawl, which spilled out into the field and throughout the stands, took place Saturday (March 5) at Corregidora Stadium in Querétaro, Mexico. Many are pointing to a group of organized fútbol fans known as “barras bravas,” akin to soccer hooligans in England and France, as the instigators of the violence.
Now, some people are saying that Mexico should be banned from hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup, especially since Mexico was already dealing with harsh criticism for fans’ history of homophobic chants, which now carry a five-year ban.
With Mexico and the United States meeting up for a World Cup qualifiers match on March 24, 2022, others are wondering if this kind of violence can happen again with a stadium full of passionate fans – some of whom can possibly turn their enthusiasm into rage.
“The violence at La Corregidora stadium was unacceptable and intolerable,” FIFA said in a statement.
On Sunday (March 6), Liga MX announced that it would suspend upcoming matches at the stadium. “We have an immediate challenge to generate a clear and understandable response and effective punishment,” Mikel Arriola, president of Liga MX, said at a news conference. “We are not going to have any soccer activity here until the case is resolved.”
League owners are scheduled to meet Tuesday (March 8) to discuss additional sanctions. Mauricio Kuri, the governor of Querétaro, said he would pursue attempted murder charges against anyone identified as taking part in the violence. “Even though there are no deaths, we can’t say this isn’t a tragedy,” he said.
Sergio Tristan, the founder of Pancho Villa’s Army, the largest organized group of Mexican soccer fans in the United States, told the L.A. Times that Liga MX is going to have to do some serious soul searching about the violence that occurred Saturday.
“It’s going to have to be harsh punishment,” Tristan said. “Whether that’s banning barras or implementing a more stringent security process in each stadium, they have to look at this with an end state of coming out stronger and better as a league that looks after its fans. They have to implement some rigid, strict policies and punishments.”