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Everything we know about the Atlas vs. Querétaro soccer match that turned violent

Fans clash during a Mexican soccer league match between the host Queretaro and Atlas
Fans clash during a Liga MX match between Atlas and Querétaro that turned violent Saturday at Corregidora Stadium, in Querétaro , Mexico.
(Sergio Gonzalez / Associated Press)
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A riot broke out during a Liga MX game between visiting Atlas and Querétaro FC on Saturday. Here’s what we know.

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What happened?

The game between the Mexican league rivals was suspended in the 62nd minute after multiple fights broke out in the stands and spilled out onto the field.

People were seen attacking each other with weapons such as knifes, metal bars, chairs and belts, as well as their fists and feet.

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Many players fled to the locker rooms, although some from Querétaro remained near the bench attempting to calm the situation.

Fans fights with each other and hurl objects at each other on the soccer field.
(Sergio Gonzalez / Associated Press)

Fans clash Saturday at Corregidora Stadium on Saturday at Querétaro, Mexico.
(Sergio Gonzalez / Associated Press)

A number of disturbing images emerged from the incident, including one of a man lying naked in a pool of his own blood. Another shows a group of men who appear to be rushing in to attack a man and a boy, both wearing Atlas jerseys, crouching together on the grass.

Another image shows a family of four running across the field, with one of the children shirtless after his father removed an Atlas jersey for his safety.

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How many people were injured or killed?

While the local government has stated that no fatalities resulted from the incident, reports cited by independent observers said 17 people had died. Others reported the toll was higher.

TV Azteca journalist David Medrano tweeted out a photo and confirmation of a dead Atlas fan. At least two other videos have surfaced of Atlas fans who insisted they had friends who died in the stadium attacks.

Official reports said as many as 26 people were hospitalized, including three in critical condition; a competing report said the number was nearly twice that high.

An injured man is evacuated from Corregidora Stadium Saturday in Queretaro, Mexico.
(Sergio Gonzalez / Associated Press)

A man is helped by an Atlas staff member.
(Eduardo Gomez Reyna / Associated Press)

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“There’s a history of government misinformation and distrust amongst its people,” said Hérculez Gómez, a former U.S. national team player who spent six seasons in the Mexican league. “And that’s going on right now.”

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How could something like this happen?

Querétaro’s Corregidora Stadium seats nearly 34,000 people, but only 600 security personnel were staffed for a game between rival teams whose fans are known to despise each other.

Hard-core Querétaro fans, are known as barras bravas, or fierce gangs, in Spanish. Most, if not all, of the people who were hospitalized were Atlas supporters. Several injured fans have been promised police escorts past the state line once released.

It has yet to be determined how the rioters were able to easily get past metal barriers and onto the field, although some reports indicate security may have opened the gates in an attempt to allow people to escape the violence in the stands.

The Liga MX brawl between Atlas and Querétaro fans has left Mexico in mourning, triggering questions about transparency, security and accountability.

March 6, 2022

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What has been the fallout?

State authorities in north-central Mexico have suspended five officials, including police and civil defense employees and three people responsible for planning and preparations.

Liga MX President Mikel Arriola tweeted that the incident was “unacceptable and regrettable.” He allowed the rest of the league schedule play Saturday night but canceled four matches scheduled for Sunday and Tuesday.

On Sunday, he promised an investigation and possible sanctions.

CONCACAF condemned the violence and also called for an investigation and sanctions.

FIFA described the riot as “barbaric” and encouraged local authorities to bring “swift justice to those responsible.”

Fans hold a metal barrier during a Mexican soccer league match between the host Queretaro and Atlas from Guadalajara.
(Sergio Gonzalez / Associated Press)
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What’s next

Guadalupe Murguia, the interior secretary of Querétaro, said a private company partly responsible for security at the stadium would have its contracts canceled.

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Querétaro’s governor, Mauricio Kuri, said he will seek attempted murder charges against individuals involved in the riot.

Arriola said Liga MX would likely adopt biometric or facial recognition systems at stadiums to help keep out troublemakers. He also plans to propose barring Atlas and Querétaro fans from attending their team’s road games.

There has been no announcement regarding the status Friday’s scheduled Liga MX games — Necaxa at Querétaro and FC Juarez at Atlas.

Times staff writer Kevin Baxter and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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