Monday Musings: Liga MX image tarnished badly

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Liga MX black eye

San Luis and Queretaro fans fight in the stands during Sunday’s match between Atlético San Luis and Querétaro at Estadio Alfonso Lastras in San Luis Potosí. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

I went to a fight and a Liga MX game broke out

Deadspin is not mainstream media, but the website founded by Gawker Media enjoys a cult-like following (guilty as charged). Regardless, Deadspin does not pull punches (and neither do Querétaro fans, evidently). So this morning’s headline can’t be too pleasant for Liga MX: “Mexican Soccer Game Abandoned After Fans Start Beating The Crap Out Of Each Other.”

With 5 minutes remaining in the Atlético San Luis-Querétaro match, ref Oscar Mejía blew his whistled and waved both teams off the field. A tremendous brawl had erupted in the stands and field officials opened the gates to allow fans – families, children – onto the pitch to escape the violence.

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Fans of San Luis (below) try to rescue one of their own who has been pulled up into the Querétaro rooting section during Sunday’s brawl. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

Reports from the game indicate harassment and heated exchanges had been going on all game between the home fans and the large section of Querétaro fans. Despite this, security officials took no measures to prevent the situation from escalating, and escalate it did.

Whatever ignited the melee, it quickly flared out of control. The scenes of violence are abhorrent and 42 people were treated for injuries, at least 7 of which required hospitalization. The scuffles continued outside the stadium and explosions were heard though they were apparently fireworks being used as “weapons” and not significant damage was reported.

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The lack of security precautions and the inability of the authorities to manage this incident is a terrible blow to the Liga MX image of soccer as a family friendly game in Mexico. Afterward, the Liga MX office released a brief, dry bulletin saying it supported local authorities in their attempt to address the issue and prosecute offenders. As of Monday morning, no arrests had been reported and Liga MX offices had made no further comment.

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Querétaro coach Victor Manuel Vucetich did not help matters by contrasting the brawl at the San Luis-Querétaro match with a deadly drug cartel gun battle. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images)

In the post-game press conference visiting coach Víctor Manuel Vucetich took great pains to argue that his team should not be punished for the actions of its fans since “we are the visiting team.” He then tried to wave off concerns by saying “This wasn’t so bad. What went on in Culiacán was much worse.”

Vucetich was referring to Thursday’s bloody shoot-out in the state of Sinaloa where a drug cartel attacked police and military who were carrying out an arrest warrant on a cartel leader. The eight-hour siege left the capital city on edge and sent shock waves across the nation.

So the eminent coach of a Liga MX team was comparing a soccer incident to a major fire-fight in order to downplay the free-for-all in the stands at Estadio Alfonso Lastras. Stay classy, coach!

Incidentally, as a result of the gunfight in Culiacán, the Dorados of Sinaloa match against Atlante was postponed. Although both teams play in Ascenso MX, the fact that a soccer game in Mexico was canceled because of a gun battle between a drug cartel and the authorities (a battle that the drug cartel won!) is not good publicity for a nation scheduled to host the World Cup in 2026.

Buried beneath these negative headlines is another story involving Mexican soccer. Earlier this month, FC Sevilla canceled two friendly matches against Liga MX teams scheduled to take place during the October FIFA break. Sevilla claims the organizers breached the contract, so the La Liga club backed out. The club said it will also cancel two additional friendlies against Liga MX teams scheduled for the November FIFA break, if the organizers don’t address their concerns.

Sevilla were supposed to play against América and the Pumas in California this month and are scheduled to play Monterrey and Guadalajara in Texas in November.

Although this matter does not directly indict Liga MX because the games were being organized by a private, still-unidentified promoters group, Mexican soccer appears guilty by association.

All in all, not a good month so far for Liga MX.

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