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Liga MX player accused of using racial slur won’t be punished

The FMF Disciplinary Committee issues no player suspensions and a fine for Atlético San Luis for racist and homophobic abuse during last week’s match against Santos Laguna

Atletico San Luis v Santos Laguna - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX Photo by Leopoldo Smith/Getty Images

The Liga MX Disciplinary Commission released its final decision regarding the incident that occurred during last Thursday night’s match between Club Atlético de San Luis and Santos Laguna. While there was a fine levied against San Luis, no players on their side were punished for incidents that occurred during the match.

To quickly recap, San Luis’ manager Leonel Rocco was red carded and then someone on the San Luis technical area can be heard using homophobic slurs toward the referee. Later in stoppage time, an altercation broke out along the San Luis bench and Santos center back Félix Torres alleged he was racially abused.

It was then alleged that San Luis forward Germán Berterame was the one who abused Torres, and videos later surfaced of the incident where someone can be heard yelling racist and homophobic phrases (content warning: racism and homophobia) although it’s not clear who says it.

The Disciplinary Commission came to the conclusion that they could not “find elements that with certainty demonstrate the culpability of Germán Berterame” and therefore they could not sanction him.

There was enough evidence however to rule that San Luis had violated Article 52, section r of their Rules and Sanctions “derived of the improper conduct of their employees and/or companions when insulting the refereeing body” and the fine levied was 3,000 UMAs (roughly MX $270,000 or USD $13,000). This was for a separate incident when manager Leonel Rocco could be heard using homophobic slurs against the referees after being sent off.

Torres was also suspended two games for pushing a ball boy immediately prior to the incident. San Luis has used this as justification for the abuse.

Although the verdict from the Disciplinary Commission merely said there wasn’t enough evidence to say Berterame was the one who racially abused Torres, San Luis used this outcome to say that the verdict was “freeing from all blame the Club and our player Germán Berterame.”

Santos meanwhile issued a statement saying it “accepts and respects the FMF Disciplinary Commission’s resolution regarding the incident involving our player Félix Torres” and that they would “also provide Félix with our full support and backing during this difficult time to help him overcome the incident, which has seriously affected him.”

The whole situation is disheartening. No matter how big the fine, there’s a hollowness to this outcome. There will be no accountability for racist conduct that can be clearly heard, and only a fine for homophobic conduct. That Atleti felt the need to do a victory lap when they were let off on a technicality is merely another injustice in a situation where there are no winners, only losers.