'Not a normal dispute between fans': 10 suspects arrested in Mexico soccer brawl
Talk of fan clubs, often involved in violence, being barred from away matches
Authorities in north-central Mexico said Tuesday they have arrested 10 suspects in a huge weekend brawl among soccer fans that left over two dozen people injured, three critically.
Guadalupe Murguia, the interior secretary of Queretaro state, said a total of 26 people had been identified as participating in the brawl and that raids and searches with warrants were continuing in several cities to find the others.
The arrests were based on a review of videos and other evidence from the Saturday confrontation.
The state has suspended five officials after security forces at the stadium were unable to control the violence. They include police and civil defence employees, and three people responsible for planning and preparations.
The private company partly responsible for security at the soccer stadium also had its contracts cancelled.
Police were also at the venue when the brawl occurred Saturday at a match between host Queretaro and Atlas from Guadalajara, the reigning league champion.
All matches in Mexico's top division were cancelled Sunday and the league may impose bans on fans attending away matches.
Saturday's match was suspended in the 62nd minute after multiple fights broke out in the stands. Security personnel opened the gates to the field so that fans, including women and children, could escape the clashes.
Only three or four of the injured men remained hospitalized. They may have been the three who were seen unconscious or badly beaten on the ground, being repeatedly kicked and pummeled in videos posted on social media.
Fan pulled knife to cut nets of goal
After several minutes, some of the fights moved to the field, where some people were armed with chairs and metal bars.
One fan could be seen pulling a knife to cut the nets of one goal. Others destroyed one side's bench, and some fought in the tunnel to the field.
Enrique Alfaro, the governor of Jalisco state, whose capital is Guadalajara, was asked Monday about local press reports that the brawl may have involved local criminal gangs fighting visitors who purportedly belonged to the Jalisco drug cartel.
"What it seems to me is that what we saw was not a normal dispute between fans," Alfaro said. "What happened there was something that looked different."
Alfaro, however, refused to comment on whether drug gangs were involved.
Guadalajara Mayor Pablo Lemus said Monday there was a growing consensus that teams' "barras" -- organized fan clubs that are often implicated in violence -- not be allowed to attend away matches.
"What we want to avoid is having the barras of visiting teams in the stadiums," Lemus said.
Mikel Arriola, president of the MX League, said it would likely adopt biometric or facial recognition systems at stadiums to identify troublemakers.
"We have to implement digital security measures to identify those who attend, starting with the barras," Arriola said, adding he would propose at a club owners meeting Tuesday that those clubs be barred from their teams' away matches.