Mexican soccer league hits club with fan ban for brutal melee

MEXICO CITY : Mexican soccer authorities on Tuesday ordered Queretaro to play their home games in an empty stadium for a year after fans went on a bloody rampage in a brawl that injured at least 26 people and made global headlines.

The punishments meted out by Mexico’s top-flight men’s soccer league and the country’s soccer federation will also ban Queretaro fans from attending away games for three years, league president Mikel Arriola told reporters.

Authorities said three people remain in a critical condition after Saturday’s melee during a game pitting Queretaro against visitors Atlas, the reigning Liga MX champions.

Cell phone videos that went viral and sparked outrage in Mexico and beyond showed people being brutally beaten.

Arriola and Yon de Luisa, head of Mexico’s soccer federation, announced the measures at a joint news conference.

“We don’t want criminals in disguise,” said Arriola, referring to organised groups of fans blamed for the violence. Such groups will need credentials to attend future games, he added.

The top four members of Queretaro’s management team were also banned from any future roles with other teams, while the club was fined 1.5 million pesos ($70,150).

Neither league nor federation officials addressed what triggered the violence, which spilled out from the stands on to the field while hundreds of people frantically sought cover.

($1 = 21.3810 Mexican pesos)

(Reporting by Carlos Pacheco; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Toby Davis)

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