Querétaro owners banned from Mexican soccer league for 5 years after fans riot
The owners of a club in the central Mexican state of Querétaro have been banned from Mexican soccer for five years in the wake of a bloody riot that left more than two dozen people hospitalized.
Mikel Arriola, president of Mexico’s Liga MX, announced the ban at a news conference following an extraordinary meeting of league owners Tuesday, saying the club must be put up for sale before the end of the year. Arriola, who called the sanctions “historic decisions,” also banned Querétaro FC’s supporters’ group for three years and said the club’s affiliated teams, including its women’s teams, will play the rest of their seasons behind closed doors regardless of the venue.
For home games, a 1.8-mile security perimeter around the stadium must be maintained.
The club was also fined about $70,000 (U.S.), and the club was forced to forfeit Saturday’s match to Atlas, which was leading 1-0 when play was halted early in the second half. Atlas’ supporters’ group, whose members were on the receiving end of much of Saturday’s violence, was also banned from home games for six months.
Yon De Luisa, president of the Mexican soccer federation, charged Querétaro’s owners with putting ”the lives of many at risk and damag[ing] the image of the state of Querétaro, its people, the club and Mexican soccer.”
The Liga MX brawl between Atlas and Querétaro fans has left Mexico in mourning, triggering questions about transparency, security and accountability.
Mauricio Kuri, governor of Querétaro, said that 10 people have been arrested and 26 suspects have been identified. Arriola said anyone found guilty of participating in the violence will be banned from all stadiums in Mexico for life. Kuri had earlier promised to pursue attempted murder charges against those who took part in the riot.
Officials continued to insist there were no fatalities in Saturday’s violence despite multiple accounts of deaths from fans and reporters who were on the scene. Those accounts say as many as 17 people died.
Twenty-six people were hospitalized. Twenty have reportedly been released, but five remain in serious condition, with another reported to be in critical condition.
Arriola’s announcement Tuesday means that Greg Taylor, a 54-year-old U.S. promoter and agent who was part of a group that bought Querétaro from Grupo Caliente in 2020, is out. Last year Taylor, a controversial figure in Mexican soccer, was accused of participating in a scheme in which the rights to players were sold at inflated prices with Taylor and his associates pocketing the profits.
The ripple effects of Saturday’s riot will be felt throughout Liga MX with the owners ruling Tuesday that visiting supporters’ groups will be prohibited from attending away matches. For home games, teams will be required to vet members of organized fan groups attending home games and confine them to a designated area. Minors will be barred from that section.
A riot broke out during a Liga MX game between visiting Atlas and Querétaro FC on Saturday. Here’s what we know at this point.
FANiD and facial recognition systems will be required in all stadiums for the 2022-23 season.
Earlier Guadalupe Murguía, the interior secretary of Querétaro state, said she was suspending five people involved in overseeing security at Estadio Corregidora, where a poorly trained force of just 600 people were assigned to protect a stadium with nearly 34,000 seats. Murguía also said the company that handles security at the stadium would have its contracts canceled. Police were present at Saturday’s game but unable to contain the fights that broke out among fans in the stands.
The Liga MX season, which was briefly paused Sunday, will resume with two games on Friday.