At least 26 people were seriously injured after pseudo-fans of Queretaro and Atlas Guadalajara clashed in a Mexican league game on Saturday. The consequences of the biggest tragedy in Mexican football history could be dire. FIFA has also commented on the whole situation.
It seemed like an ordinary Saturday afternoon like many in the Mexican Clausura. Queretaro faced Atlas Gudalajara in the matchday 9 of the second part of the league. Before the game itself nothing seemed to portend the tragedy to come. Not only are both teams not involved in the championship battle, but the visiting fans had to travel almost 400km to follow their team.
Everything bad started in the 63rd minute of the match, when Atlas was leading 1:0. The fans of both teams started a fight without paying attention to the events on the pitch. What was happening in the stands was not broadcasted live on TV. The match was abandoned and the players went to the changing rooms, while in one sector of Estadio La Corregidora a fierce slaughter was taking place.
Initially, it seemed that only the injured would emerge from the clash, but the Mexican media soon began reporting on the dead. There were said to be 17, and then 22 deaths were made public. However, these are not confirmed figures and the local authorities strongly deny this. A number of Mexican journalists have already apologised for spreading 'fake news'.
Mexico's barras bravas are known around the world for their many hooligan antics, but what happened in Queretaro on Saturday will certainly not be forgotten for a long time. The president of the league, Mikel Arriola, has announced that as of Sunday, away fans will not be allowed into stadiums in Mexico.
The consequences for both clubs, their fans, and the country as a whole could be dire. In 2026, Mexico, along with the United States and Canada, is set to host the first ever World Cup to be held in three countries.
Mexico's continued participation as co-organiser of the World Cup has been called into question following the incident involving Queretaro and Atlas pseudo-fans. Mexico could become the first country in history to host the world's most prestigious football tournament for a third time.
FIFA has also spoken out on the matter. The organisation headed by Gianni Infantino has recently been known for its controversial decisions, which are not befitting such a renowned organisation. After the sanctions (or rather the lack of them at first) related to depriving Russia of the possibility of playing in the play-off round for the World Cup in Qatar, the Swiss organisation also behaved rather... subdued.
As in the case of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this time FIFA also "condemned" the events in Mexico, but at the same time made it clear that it stands aside rather than actively interfering in the internal affairs of the country and the federation. At the moment it is difficult to say whether the Zurich-based organisation will make any binding decisions regarding Saturday's tragedy in Queretaro.
[UPDATE 09.03.] The assembly decided to remove the current Queretaro board from their positions, and the owners must sell the club as soon as possible. An economic sanction of MXN 1.5 million has also been imposed on Queretaro. Estadio La Corregidora will remain closed to fans for 12 months, with supporters of "Los Gallos Blancos" unable to attend home matches for three years. The ban will also last a year for fans who wish to travel with their club for away matches.