Manuel Veth –
The referees’ strike in Liga MX that wiped out an entire match day made major headlines in March. Mexican referees refused to officiate games after the Mexican federation (FMF) handed out an eight-game ban to Club América’s Pablo Aguilar, and Toluca’s Enrique Triverio. Both players were involved in altercations with the referee, and the Mexican referees’ association demanded that both players would be banned for a year.
The announcement of the strike and the refusal of referees to officiate round 10 of the Liga MX Clausura meant that games had to be rescheduled. The referees demanded more respect from players, and that the federation would come down with harsher punishments towards players that threaten officials on the field. The following day Récord one of Mexico’s largest sports papers run the headline “Roja a La Liga” (red card for the league).
The referees seemed to have won the battle against the owners
The referees would keep striking until the players received just punishment. The referees association pointed at a paragraph that stated that players had to be banned for a full year if they had been involved in an altercation with the referee on the field.
As a result of the strike, the FMF quickly gave in and banned both players for an entire year. A minor revolution appeared to be in the cards. The referees had stood up to the owners, as well as the federation, and they had pushed through their demands. The heavy sanctions also meant that they could now display more authority on the field.
At first glance, it appeared that the referees’ making a stand has somewhat changed the culture in the Mexican game. Displays of aggressive behaviour and crowding of the referee seem to be down during Liga MX games.
The owners have successfully appealed the ban in front of the CAS
The powerful owners of the clubs, however, were remarkably unhappy with the decision to ban the players for one year. Club América, owned by the powerful Grupo Televisa media company, and Toluca, owned by Valentín Diez, have appealed the decision to ban their players to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
They argued that the punishment was excessive and that both players should be reinstituted after having served their initial bans of ten games in the case of Aguilar, and eight games in the case of Triverio. The CAS then ruled on Tuesday, May 2 that the original punishments were fair, and that both players would be reinstated after having served their original suspensions.
Toluca’s Triverio will, therefore, be available in the quarterfinals of the Liga MX Liguilla, and Aguilar in potential semi-finals, should Club América get this far in the competition. The referees’ association has since issued a statement that they respect the CAS decision, but at the same time, it will be interesting to see what kind of dynamic will develop between the referees, the players, and the owners in the closing stages of the season.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and podcaster for WorldFootballIndex.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.