Mexican club punished, 10 fans arrested for brawl in football stadium

MEXICO CITY, Mexico, March 9 Mexican first division soccer team Queretaro were ordered on Tuesday to play home games without spectators for a year and their owners must sell the franchise after a mass brawl between rival fans.

The Mexican Football Federation’s announcement came hours after authorities said 10 men had been arrested during weekend violence that left 26 injured.

They are suspected of attempted manslaughter, violence at a sporting event and defense of criminal activity, said a statement from the Querétaro city prosecutor’s office.

The brawl erupted just after the hour mark for Saturday’s game between local side Queretaro and defending champions Atlas, sending families and children running for cover as violence spilled onto the pitch.

Stewards and security guards couldn’t control the raging fans.

The match was canceled and the football league suspended Sunday’s remaining matches.

The Mexican Football Federation announced on Tuesday that Querétaro would have to play all home games behind closed doors for a year as part of a series of sanctions.

The club’s managers will be banned from the league for five years and the owners must sell the franchise within a year, he said.

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Queretaro will also be fined 1.5 million pesos (about $70,000) and lose Saturday’s game 3-0.

The club’s stalwart supporters, known as “barras”, were banned from home matches for three years and away matches for one year.

Those from Atlas have been banned from away games for six months.

A judge issued arrest warrants on Monday evening for several dozen people suspected of taking part in the melee and identified through social media reports and images.

The judge also authorized searches of the suspects’ homes, and investigators found 82 jerseys bearing the Querétaro insignia, four pairs of sports shoes – some stained with blood – and 22 cell phones, among other items.

World football’s governing body FIFA has denounced the “unacceptable and intolerable” violence in a country which is also trying to end homophobic chanting in its stadiums, four years before it co-hosts the 2026 World Cup with the United States and Canada.

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