At least 22 people were injured, including two critically, on Saturday when fans brawled during a football game in central Mexico. Unconfirmed reports in the Mexican media said up to 17 people had died in the violence.
The Liga MX match between the hosts Queretaro and Atlas from Guadalajara was suspended in the 62nd minute when 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 Atlas quickly fled to the locker rooms as did some from Queretaro. 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. Some people were armed with chairs and metal bars. One fan could be seen pulling a knife to cut the nets of one of the goals. Others destroyed a team bench and some fought in the players’ tunnel.
Liga MX condemned the violence in a message on its official Twitter account. League president Mikel Arriola said those responsible for the lack of security in the stadium would be punished. He added that the rest of the league’s games this weekend had been suspended.
Atlas has had issues recently with violence among its fans. Last year, the derby with crosstown rival Chivas saw a brawl in the stands.
“Unfortunately, what is happening in Queretaro …is happening in my country,” said Rafael Marquez, the former Mexico captain who started his career with Atlas and later became its 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 governor Mauricio Kuri condemned the violence and said the owners of the club would have to answer for what had happened.
“I have given instructions that the law be applied with all of its consequences,” he said.