Liga MX officials bid adios to Clausura season

Some Santos Laguna fans wore masks to protect against the Covid-19 virus while attending the team's March 1 home game against Atlas. (Photo by Armando Marin/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Some Santos Laguna fans wore masks to protect against the Covid-19 virus while attending the team's March 1 home game against Atlas. (Photo by Armando Marin/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

As fatalities due to Covid-19 spike, Mexico’s soccer league pulls the plug.

For the first time since soccer became a professional sport in 1943, Mexico won’t be crowning a champion. Liga MX officials formally canceled the remainder of the Clausura 2020 season, putting health concerns over financial considerations.

At the beginning of the week, the odds were that the season would be shut down as 13 of the leagues 18 teams were said to be opposed to a restart. Then, the Chivas made a last-ditch effort to rescue the Clausura, submitting an outline of how the season could be squeezed into a 8- or 9-week period from in before the end of August.

Before Liga MX teams had time to study the 28-page document submitted by Guadalajara management, word leaked that 12 Santos Laguna players had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. At the same time, Mexico saw a new high in virus-related fatalities set three times this week.

More from Liga MX

It was obvious that the Clausura could not be rescued without risking the health of players and team personnel, as well as stadium and broadcast/media employees.

Some players were relieved by the Liga MX decision (five América players who either were expecting children or had newborns at home – including goalie Guillermo Ochoa – had expressed concerns about risking the health of their families).

Others chose to make outrageous claims, with Cruz Azul vice president Alfredo Álvarez offering a real head-shaker. Álvarez told reporters he believes the reports of infected players was made up to deny the Cementeros a championship (seriously!).

Liga MX officials met with federal health authorities on Wednesday to discuss the precautions and protocols that would be necessary to get permission to finish the Clausura. The basic guidance was that players and team personnel be isolated and tested regularly, and games played without fans.

More from Playing for 90

Six of the 18 Liga MX teams play in regions considered virus hot spots, three in the worst-hit area, Mexico City. On May 20, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum authorized the return of professional sports – in empty stadiums – beginning on June 15. That appeared to be a major hurdle cleared, but then came the news out of the Santos Laguna camp.

MLS and Liga MX decided earlier in the week to cancel international tournaments scheduled for this summer, including the Campeones Cup and the Leagues Cup.

Liga MX announced that Cruz Azul (in first place with 22 points after 10 games) and León (in second place with 21 points) would represent Mexico in the Concacaf Champions League next year.

What’s next for Liga MX?

A sports business expert claims that the league could take a 100 million-dollar hit as a result of the canceled season. Luis Ramón Carazo told reporters that owners must formulate plans designed to “lose as little as possible.” Loss of revenues over broadcast rights, sponsorship deals and lost ticket sales as well as reimbursements to season ticket holders will be significant.

Owners must also negotiate with players, especially the 101 players whose contracts expire at the end of June. Teams already strapped for cash were reluctant to fork over additional wages to extend the season.

Veteran Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera is among those who has taken the position that player contracts should be honored, regardless of whether games are played.

Next. Ill-fated effort to save season. dark

Officials will now turn their attention to the Apertura 2020 season with the hopes that it can kick off in August.