The owners of a club in the central Mexican state of Queretaro have been banned from playing Mexican football for five years following deadly riots that left more than two dozen people in hospital.
Mexico’s Liga MX president Mikel Areola announced the ban at a press conference following an extraordinary meeting of the league’s owners on Tuesday, saying the club must be put up for sale before the end of the year. Areola, who called the penalties “historic decisions”, also banned the Queretaro fan group for three years and said the club’s teams, including women’s teams, will play the rest of their seasons behind closed doors no matter where.
For home games, a 1.8-mile perimeter of security must be maintained around the playing field.
The club was also fined about $70,000 (US), and the club had to lose Saturday’s game to Atlas, who were leading 1-0 when play was halted early in the second half. The Atlas supporters’ group, whose members were exposed to a lot of violence on Saturday, was also banned from matches at their home ground for six months.
Yon de Luisa, president of the Mexican Football Federation, accused Queretaro’s owners of putting “the lives of so many at risk and damaging the image of the state of Queretaro, its people, the club and Mexican football.”
Mauricio Corrie, the governor of Queretaro, said 10 people have been arrested and 26 suspects identified. Areola said anyone found guilty of participating in the violence would be banned from all stadiums in Mexico for life. Corrie had earlier promised to prosecute those involved in the riots on charges of attempted murder.
Officials continued to insist that there were no deaths in Saturday’s violence despite multiple accounts of deaths from fans and journalists who were at the scene. These accounts say as many as 17 people died.
26 people were hospitalized. Twenty were reported to have been released, but five are still in serious condition, and the others are in critical condition.
Arriola’s announcement on Tuesday means Greg Taylor, the 54-year-old US promoter and agent who was part of a group that bought Querétaro from Grupo Caliente in 2020, is over. Last year, Taylor, a controversial figure in Mexican football, was accused of participating in a scheme in which player rights were sold at inflated prices, in which Taylor and his co-stars were making profits.
The ripple effects of Saturday’s riots will be felt throughout Liga MX as the owners decided on Tuesday that visiting fan groups would be banned from attending away matches. For home games, teams will be required to screen members of organized fan groups who attend home games and confine them to a specific area. Minors will be banned from this section.
FANiD and facial recognition systems will be required at all venues for the 2022-23 season.
Earlier, Queretaro state’s interior minister, Guadalupe Morgoya, said she was suspending five people involved in overseeing security at Estadio Corregidora, where a poorly trained force of just 600 people was assigned to protect a stadium with nearly 34,000 seats. Morgoya also said that the company that handles security at the stadium will have its contracts cancelled. The police were present at Saturday’s match but were unable to contain the fights that broke out between fans in the stands.
The Liga MX season, which was halted briefly on Sunday, will resume with two matches on Friday.