Liga MX president Mikel Arriola said supporters’ groups known as barras no longer have a place at games following the violent fan brawls that marred a Queretaro-Atlas match and left dozens injured earlier this month.
Speaking on ESPN’s Futbol Americas, Arriola said the league will begin to identify and register all members of barras, often referred to as “animation groups,” if they want to attend future matches.
“This is the beginning of the end of barras, because we are going to [go after them] by means of generating identities,” Arriola said. “If criminals don’t [reveal] their identities, they will not be part of any animation group.”
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The prevalance of barras and other supporters’ groups has become a contentious issue since the March 5 match at Queretaro’s Estadio Corregidora saw fans spilling on the pitch to escape the fights breaking out in the stands. Twenty-six people were injured, while authorities have so far made 27 arrests.
Last week, Arriola and Mexican Football Federation (FMF) president Yon de Luisa announced league-wide changes such as a temporary ban on away supporters’ groups at Liga MX matches, and only registered members in home supporters’ group sections.
Arriola also said it will aim to have a fan ID process by the 2022-23 season.
“Our main goal for the next season is to have the fan ID implemented in every stadium for every fan,” Arriola said.
Several clubs have implemented their own reforms regarding attendance of barras. Chivas announced that their supporters’ groups won’t have a place at the Estadio Akron until further notice. On Friday, Club America made a similar decision, adding that the groups can’t collectively enter the Estadio Azteca as a group until new protocols are made.
“I totally agree with the teams that are now banning their own barras,” Arriola said. “We are now working with a couple of other teams to ban directly their barras.”
When asked whether organized crime had a role in barras, Arriola said that “the investigation is evolving and the conclusions of the investigations are going to be very interesting for us.”
While Liga MX did not disaffiliate Queretaro following the incident, it did levy several punishments against the club. It will have to play home matches with no fans for one year, and Queretaro’s ownership has been given back to the previous administration under Grupo Caliente. Grupo Caliente have until the end of the year to sell Queretaro, and if they are unable to do so, the team will go under the ownership of Liga MX.
When asked about the choice to keep Queretaro in Mexico’s top flight and not disaffiliate the club from Liga MX, Arriola said it would have had implications that were “not related with the causes of the problem.”
“If we close Queretaro, we would close around 15,000 sources of employment,” said Arriola, adding that it would be “unfair for Queretaro fans to lose their team.”
Coupled with additional controversy in Mexican soccer regarding punishments for anti-gay chants from fans in World Cup qualifiers last year, Arriola doesn’t feel that the latest events will impact the country’s place as a co-host for the 2026 World Cup.
“We have the capacity to solve our own problems,” Arriola said. “We have the capacity to be successful.”