Things have been moving very quickly around an incident at Thursday night’s match between Club Atlético de San Luis and Santos Laguna where Santos center back Félix Torres says he was racially abused. Here’s the timeline of events:
Approximately 10:55 PM (all times local): A scrum breaks out along the San Luis end of the touchline. Television cameras show Félix Torres being surrounded by several players from San Luis. Torres’ Santos teammates rush in, and while it doesn’t appear to go beyond pushing and shoving and players yelling at one another, Torres is shown a red card. A minute later, San Luis’ Iván Pineda is also shown a red card.
Approximately 11:00 PM: The match ends and the players head back to the locker rooms. Santos players report seeing Torres crying in the locker room, alleging he was the victim of racist abuse.
11:31 PM: Chairman Alejandro Irarragorri of Grupo Orlegi, who own Santos Laguna (as well as Atlas and Tampico Madero FC) issues a statement via Twitter saying “NO TO RACISM, entering the locker room and seeing a player crying for the insults received is really lamentable.”
NO AL RACISMO , entrar al vestidor y ver a un jugador llorando por los insultos recibidos es realmente lamentable— Ale Irarragorri (@Irarragorri) February 19, 2021
11:33 PM: Santos releases a video of a press conference on Twitter where Torres’ center back partner Matheus Dória gives a statement alleging and emphatically denouncing racist abuse toward “my brother and my (defensive) partner.”
11:48 PM: Santos releases a video of a press conference on Twitter that Torres gives nearly in tears, confirming Dória’s allegations of racist abuse directed at him.
Message from Félix Torres after the game in San Luis:— Club Santos EN (@ClubSantosEn) February 19, 2021
"It makes me very sad that something like this happens in today's football. I don’t have problems with anyone, I try to get on with everyone. What happened today can’t keep happening."
(1/4)#ModoGuerrero ⚔️ https://t.co/GUZDmPdBW3
12:02 AM: Video surfaces of Torres trying to retrieve a ball from a ball kid on the sideline. The video appears to show Torres shoving the ball kid, sparking members of San Luis’ bench to mob Torres.
Todo inicia cuando Torres corre hacia al balonero lo empuja y la banca de Atlético de San Luis brinca ante esta acción y se viene la de Caín y Abel, mal, mal todo. pic.twitter.com/UDAVF90DWW— Paulina Benavente (@pbenaventeg) February 19, 2021
12:24 AM: Video and audio surfaces of a homophobic slur filled rant, allegedly by members of the San Luis technical staff when coach Leonel Rocco was sent off. Rocco was sent off in the 70th minute of the game.
ES MOMENTO DE RESPETAR— Christian Moya (@soycristianmoya) February 19, 2021
En el fútbol las agresiones o actos de racismo, son consecuencia de la poca educación que tienen algunas personas
Aquí se pueden escuchar insultos q la gente de San Luis tanto en cancha y en gradas, le gritó al silbante tras la expulsión a Leonel Rocco pic.twitter.com/3wIQGrwRwX
12:56 AM: Liga MX confirms via press release that they are investigating the matter.
11:43 AM: The Asociación Mexicana de Futbolistas (Mexican Player’s Union) releases a statement that “rejects any discriminatory manifestations for questions of race, gender, or any other nature,” and that “it is urgent that the authorities establish the basis and apply pertinent measures for eradicating these lamentable acts that tarnish our fútbol and our society.”
11:52 AM: Santos releases a press release that reads “Our player Félix Torres received discriminatory and racist insults from members of the rival team, acts that we condemn and categorically reject.
“What happened caused significant harm to our player, our institution, Liga MX and our industry. We hope that the Liga BBVA MX and the Federación Mexicana de Futbol (Mexican football federation) carry out a full and far-reaching investigation into the events; that these types of events do not happen again and are eradicated from our game.
“Felix has our full support and we will do whatever required to help him through this difficult time.”
12:17 PM: Atlético de San Luis tweets out a statement that reads “Club Atlético de San Luis has always had as an ideology and official position zero tolerance for racism and violence, for which we strongly condemn any type of expression that may have happened in yesterday’s match where Atlético de San Luis faced Santos Laguna.
“We are in the best position to deliver any type of material that exhibits any type of violence, physical, verbal or racist, with the finality to conclude the referee’s report, which should be noted, does not mention any fault produced by racist acts, nevertheless, if it consist of an act of excessive force with which he pushed one of our ball recoverers (ball boys) belonging to the U17s.
“On the other hand, we want to inform that in case there is produced this fact of such reprehensible racism, action will be taken on the matter.”
Comunicado Oficial. pic.twitter.com/hMHs3aJWhg— Atlético de San Luis (@AtletideSanLuis) February 19, 2021
Approximately 1:15 PM: Santos’ Executive President Dante Elizalde appears on Azteca Deportes with David Medrano and says “Félix Torres maintains he received racist insults by (San Luis forward Germán) Berterame and also the box emerged other insults of this tone.” This is the first time a player is officially named as having racially abused Torres.
Whether or not it was Berterame or others from the Atlético San Luis bench is somewhat irrelevant. Of course it matters that the perpetrators are identified and sanctions are levied, but that this behavior is happening at all is appalling. The fact that a club whose parent club is one of the best known brands on the planet felt the need to both-sides this by denouncing a ball kid being pushed is beyond appalling. Pushing a ball kid is unobjectionably bad and without question a disciplinary offense, but there are no offenses where hurling racist abuse is acceptable.
Similarly, there are no excuses for hurling homophobic slurs at the officiating crew or anyone else.
This entire situation is a stain on San Luis (and Atlético Madrid by proxy) and Liga MX. Every fan of fútbol mexicano should be outraged at this, because we know the league is better than this and deserves better than this. Félix Torres deserves better than this. We all do.