Liga MX and the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) handed down their punishments on Tuesday, following the violent clash between fans that left 26 people injured at Saturday’s match between host Querétaro and defending Liga MX champion Atlas at Estadio Corregidora.
The Querétaro ownership group has been banned from involvement with any club affiliated with the FMF for five years. The team will be operated by its previous owner, Grupo Caliente, which also owns Liga MX’s Tijuana club. Caliente had owned Queretaro until June 2020 and is tasked with selling the team by the end of 2022. If it fails to secure a buyer, the league will take control of the club.
Querétaro, along with its youth and women’s teams, will not have fans at any home matches for 12 months.
The club’s “animation group” cannot attend home matches for three years and is barred from away matches for one year, while Atlas’ supporters group got a six-month ban at away games. Any fans found guilty of assault will be banned for life from stadiums in Mexico. The governing bodies also announced a host of security protocol upgrades around Liga MX stadiums to commence with the 2022-23 season in an effort to stem violence at Mexican football matches. Visiting supporter groups for all teams will not be allowed at stadiums until further notice.
“We are facing the problem head-on, with the aim of changing this negative image from the previous weekend,” Mikel Arriola, Liga MX president, said at a news conference.
The riot and punishment arrive as Liga MX and MLS are working more closely together to tap into each other’s strengths: infrastructure (MLS) and viewership (Liga MX). The first Leagues Cup featuring all clubs from both leagues will take place during a one-month tournament next summer at venues in the U.S. and Canada, where matchday revenue can be five times higher than at stadiums in Mexico.
The Querétaro ownership group was undercapitalized compared to other clubs, according to one Liga MX insider, who compared the current situation to Real Salt Lake in MLS. In 2020, RSL owner Del Loy Hansen was forced to sell his club—for very different reasons—when controversy erupted over his past use of racist language. When Hansen failed to sell the team, the league stepped in and took over the process. A group led by David Blitzer agreed to buy RSL for nearly $400 million in January.
Querétaro is arguably the least valuable Liga MX club. The current ownership group bought the team from Caliente in 2020 at a gross valuation of around $60 million, and it has annual revenue of roughly $30 million, according to multiple Liga MX insiders. Media is its biggest revenue stream, but matchday and sponsorship revenue will take a hit without fans at Estadio Corregidora for a full year.