Mexico fan violence: At least 22 injured and matches suspended after fighting at top-flight match

Fan violence forced the suspension of Saturday’s top-flight match between Queretaro and Atlas FC in Mexico

At least 22 people were injured, including two critically, on Saturday when fans brawled during a top-flight football match in Mexico.

The game between the hosts Queretaro and Atlas from Guadalajara, the reigning league champions, was suspended in the 62nd minute when multiple fights broke out in the stands. Security personnel opened the gates to the field so that fans, including women and children, could escape the stands.

Players from visiting Atlas quickly fled to the dressing rooms as did some from the Queretaro side. Other Queretaro players, including Uruguayan goalkeeper Washington Aguerre, stayed near the bench trying to calm the fans.

After several minutes some of the fights moved to the field where they continued punching and kicking. Some people were armed with chairs and metal bars.

One fan could be seen pulling a knife to cut the nets of one goal. Others destroyed one side’s bench and some fought in the tunnel to the field.

So far there is no report of deaths; 22 people were injured, nine of them taken to the General Hospital and of these, two are critical, said the Queretaro state civil protection agency. The rest are stable. All of those injured are male and at this moment it’s been confirmed that four were from the state of Jalisco. Guadalajara is the capital of Jalisco.

The league condemned the violence in a message on its official Twitter account. League President Mikel Arriola said the game would not be resumed on Saturday. He said those responsible for the lack of security in the stadium would be punished.

Other matches continued on Saturday despite the violence, before all of Sunday’s fixtures were suspended.

Atlas have also had issues recently with violence among their fans. Last year, the classic with crosstown rivals Chivas saw a brawl in the stands.

“Unfortunately, what is happening in Queretaro …is happening in my country”, said Rafael Marquez, a former captain of the Mexican national team, who started his career with Atlas and later became their coach.

Graphic videos and photos circulated on social networks showing apparent fans motionless on the ground, in some cases stripped naked and covered with blood.

Queretaro Gov. Mauricio Kuri condemned the violence and said the owners of the Queretaro club would have to answer for what happened.

“I have given instructions that the law be applied with all of its consequences”, he said.

A Mexican Football Federation statement said: “The Mexican Football Federation regrets and condemns the events that occurred this afternoon at Estadio Corregidora in Queretaro, in the match between Queretaro and Atlas.

“Football must be a space of healthy coexistence where any type of violence is inadmissible.

“The FMF will monitor and assist in the investigation process with the corresponding instances so that those responsible are sanctioned in an exemplary manner.”

An Atlas FC statement read: “Atlas FC regrets and disapproves of the events that took place in Estadio Corregidora.

“Soccer must be an ally to promote values and fun for the whole family.

“We request the pertinent authorities, the Liga BBVA MX and the FMF, to investigate thoroughly and reach the ultimate consequences, determining the responsibilities of those who are involved, and applying the full force of the law.”