A Liga MX soccer match between Querétaro and guest rival Atlas ended in a deadly riot on Saturday night.
In the 63rd minute of the match, with Atlas leading 1–0, fierce fans in the stands forced spectators to flee onto the pitch. Referee Fernando Guerrero stopped play as fans poured onto the pitch, but even that was not enough to restore calm. Guerrero brought the match to a definitive end as the fans overran the pitch and the violence spiraled out of control.
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Eventually, the violence spilled out of the arena, where fans saw bloodied bodies crawling, poles and chairs swaying.
As a result, conflicting reports have emerged from the scene. The previous death toll of David Medrano Felix of TV Azteca was refuted by civil protection coordination authorities in the state of Querétaro, saying that 22 people were injured, two of them seriously.
Liga MX president Mikel Arriola called off games for the rest of the weekend at the behest of the players' union and promised "exemplary punishments" to those responsible.
Already feigning shock, Liga MX announces plans to investigate how two fugitive fanbases with violent histories got to this point where security was woefully ill-prepared. Saturday's uprising was not a totally surprising development. There is a history of violence between these two clubs which has been ignored. La Liga MX is responsible for the outcome of Saturday's violence through simple negligence.
Atlas and Querétaro fans have clashed in 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2017. Each incident resulted in the intervention of riot police, but the clubs seemed content to be testing the odds. After a 2010 brawl in the stands, both clubs took pre-emptive measures to separate home and away supporters, but these restrictions have been eased over time. In 2013 Querétaro supporters attacked Atlas supporters using rocks, bottles and cans as projectiles.
The brutal violence displayed in Querétaro will inevitably raise questions about Mexico's willingness to host the 2016 World Cup matches, which they will co-host with Canada and the United States.
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La Corregidora, where the brawl took place, hosted matches during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Although La Corregidora won't host any of Mexico's ten games in 2026, Saturday night's violence marred their top soccer league's ability to stage safe matches between fans around the world. Fortunately, the arenas planned to host the World Cup, Akron Stadium in Guadalajara, Estadio Azteca in Mexico City and Bancomer Stadium in Monterrey should be much better prepared.
Following each of the past incidents of violence, Liga MX, Querétaro and Atlas failed to implement proper safety protocols, leaving Commissioner Arriola's concerns ringing hollow. If Liga MX makes sense, Querétaro and Atlas shouldn't play another game for the rest of the season. The league ban should also be on the table, and everything else invites future repetition. It sounds extreme, but after 15 years of Liga MX and management, an example must be set for both clubs to allow this unruly behavior between rivals to escalate.