The fallout from the horrific incidents of last Saturday’s bloody riot during the Querétaro vs. Atlas game continued on Tuesday, with punishments for Club Querétaro, their owners, and barras bravas and other “grupos de animación” handed out by Mikel Arriola, Executive President of Liga MX. The sanctions are as follows:
- Querétaro forfeits the match against Atlas, losing 3-0
- Querétaro will play all games behind closed doors until March 7, 2023
- The matches may be played at La Corregidora or at another venue authorized by Liga MX
- Gallos Femenil and the Fuerzas Básicas must also play behind closed doors for one year, and may be played at the same venue
- Querétaro will be fined $1.5 million pesos (roughly $70,000 USD)
- Querétaro’s “Grupo de Animación” is banned from attending home games for three years
- All “grupos de animación” are prohibited from away games until further notice
- Querétaro reverts back to Grupo Caliente, who will need to sell the team by the end of 2022
- People found guilty of taking part in the riot will be banned permanently from any soccer stadium
- All clubs must have mandatory credentialing for “grupos de animación” to enter their designated areas in the stadium
- Management of “grupos de animación” both inside and outside of the stadium will be handled by state, municipal, and/or public authorities. Private security firms are now forbidden from handling “grupos de animación”
- Clubs are no longer allowed to give support to the “grupos de animación” and clubs violating this will play closed door games and suffer a fine
- In 2022-23, the league will implement a Fan ID system for all fans who enter the “grupos de animación” area, including IDs and facial recognition systems
- In 2022-23, the league will implement facial recognition systems for all fans inside of the stadium
- Areas for “grupos de animación” can only take in credentialed fans, and minors are not allowed access to this area. The number of registered persons must be limited in accordance to Liga MX
- A “Director of Security” for Liga MX and the FMF will be appointed to supervise security plans of all teams and ensure that all teams have a head of security
- Continued prohibition of flags and pyrotechnics
Also reported was that Querétaro’s current owners (Manuel Velarde, Gabriel Solares, Alfonso Solloa, Javier Solloa, Greg Taylor) are barred from Mexican soccer for five years, and Atlas’ “grupo de animación” is barred from away games for six months.
These sanctions are unprecedented in their size and scope, and they seem like reasonable measures to try and prevent another incident from happening. Hopefully any future incidents are avoided at least in part due to these measures.
That said, these actions should not be misconstrued as justice. Justice wasn’t ever going to be the outcome of this, since true justice for the victims extends beyond fútbol and what a league or federation can mete out. Justice wouldn’t involve the fuerzas básicas teams made up of kids as young as 12 being held accountable for this.
Justice also wouldn’t involve the only Liga MX Femenil team with their own stadium being punished for actions that did not occur in their stadium or at one of their games. Gallos Femenil had looked like they were finally heading in the right direction under Carla Rossi, sitting in the eighth and final Liguilla spot as of this writing. They had been getting great play from goalkeeper Vanessa Córdoba and had three players on the México U20 National Team. Now they too must play behind closed doors, perhaps thankful the team wasn’t completely disaffiliated with little consideration for them.
True justice would be those that committed, aided in the commission of, and were otherwise complicit in the commission of the heinous acts we saw on film being held accountable via the legal system, as well as the application of any appropriate civil penalties.
Justice also looks like the victims of this assault, as well as the victims of other senseless tragedies in our sport such as the 2012 Port Said disaster, being given the same deserved deference and respect as the victims of the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989. Anytime soccer fans don’t come home from a match, it’s a tragedy. This one is no different.
We may be seeing justice starting to come. Monday night, the State of Querétaro conducted 21 simultaneous searches and arrested 10 people. They collected evidence and arrested four more people yesterday. While these are small steps and skepticism in the justice system runs deep, these are undoubtedly steps in the right direction.