Football: Ten arrested over Mexican top-flight brawl, players receive death threats

Memorabilia of Mexican football team Atlas and candles are seen during a mass held outside Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico, on March 7, 2022, for the people injured in fights that broke out during the March 5 Mexican League match between Queretaro and Atlas. PHOTO: AFP

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - Ten men have been arrested in Mexico over a brawl between rival football fans that broke out during a game last weekend and left 26 people injured, prosecutors said on Tuesday (March 8).

The 10 are suspected of attempted manslaughter, violence at a sports event and defending criminal activity, said a statement from the prosecutor's office in the city of Queretaro.

The fight broke out just after the hour mark of Saturday's game between the home team Queretaro and Atlas in the top division of Mexican football.

As some fans, including families with children, tried to escape the violence, the clashes spilled out onto the field of play, sending players running for cover.

The game was called off and the league suspended Sunday's remaining matches.

Of the 26 people hurt and hospitalised, 19 have been released so far.

A judge issued arrest warrants on Monday night for several dozen people who were suspected of taking part in the melee and identified through news footage and social media images.

The judge also authorised searches of these suspects' homes, and investigators found 82 jerseys with the Queretaro insignia, four pairs of athletic shoes - some stained with blood - and 22 mobile phones among other items.

The fight started when Queretaro fans invaded and attacked a section of the stands were Atlas supporters were seated.

Owners of teams in the league were to meet on Tuesday discuss the violence that marred the game.

"My players have received death threats. They're not calm. There are wives who are thinking of leaving," Queretaro coach Hernan Cristante told a news conference.

He added: "There were many families in the stadium. The people from Atlas were cheering. The people from Queretaro were cheering and something happened."

The Argentinian said that he and his players had helped some Atlas fans who were attacked by Queretaro supporters, sheltering them in the dressing room.

"I saw a boy who was being beaten and I grabbed three boys (players) to get him out and we took him to the tunnel," Cristante said.

World football's governing body Fifa criticised what it called the "unacceptable and intolerable" violence.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.