Photo credit: Esto Es Puebla
By Manuel Aguilera-Prieto
On March 5th, violence erupted at a soccer match between Mexican football clubs Querétaro and Atlas. Local media reported 26 injuries, three of which were deemed critical. Fans present during the altercation have insisted that there were numerous deaths, although the state of Querétaro has denied these claims.
The visiting club Atlas was leading by one goal to nil when the match was abruptly suspended in the 62nd minute due to fighting in the stands. Officials opened the field so that spectators could escape the ongoing brawls, although the situation quickly advanced to the pitch once the players had been evacuated. Violent fans could be seen wielding metal bars and chairs to assault the rival team’s supporters. The game was immediately called off by the referee, and a 3-0 default win was awarded to Atlas.
League officials have condemned the violence, and several measures have been taken to punish the agressors and the owners of Querétaro, the latter of which has been fined for 1.5 million pesos. The most severe sanction orders that ownership of the club be transferred to new stakeholders. Additionally, the club’s board of directors has been banned for five years.
Fans will face consequences as well. The league stated that Querétaro’s hardcore fan base, known broadly as “barra,” will be banned for three years at home games and an additional year at away games. Moreover, all games in their home stadium of La Corregidora will have to be played behind closed doors for the next year.
Although violence at soccer matches is not unheard of, the severity of this incident has shocked and appalled the sports world. With the 2026 World Cup planned to be held in three North American countries, FIFA officials have to consider the concerns about hosting matches in Mexico.