Liga MX to resume play

It is still unclear when the teams would be allowed to play in front of fans

Mexico's Liga MX to resume play with no spectators amid the pandemic
Teams will have to tests their players for COVID-19 before resuming training sessions - Photo: Rafael Vadillo/EL UNIVERSAL
English 11/06/2020 13:59 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City Édgar Luna Cruz/EL UNIVERSAL & Newsroom/AP Actualizada 19:01

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Mexico’s first-division soccer teams said Wednesday they will return to the field after four months without play because of the coronavirus pandemic, but there will be no spectators when the first matches resume July 24.

Liga Mx said that the new season will run July 24-December 12 and that four more teams will be able to qualify for post-season play, for a total of 12. The top four squads advance automatically, while the other eight will play knock-out rounds to qualify.

League President Enrique Bonilla, who himself tested positive for the coronavirus, said it was unclear when the teams would be allowed to play in front of fans.

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He said the previous season’s Tijuana-Monterrey Copa MX championship faceoff, which was canceled in March, will be played on September 16 and 23.

Mexico has not yet reached the peak of its coronavirus outbreak and has seen 129,184 confirmed cases and at least 15,357 deaths as of June 10.

To date, 33 first-division players have tested positive for the virus, though all were believed to be asymptomatic.

The league is requiring teams to be tested before resuming training sessions, which will initially be limited to six players at a time. Later, full-squad training sessions will begin. For games, there will be limits on greetings, celebrations, and pre-match ceremonies.

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The league suspended play March 15, with 10 of 17 scheduled match dates having been played. It was the first time since the 1943-44 season that a season in Mexican top-division league play had been canceled.

“It was the best move, but that doesn’t make it any less sad,” said Bonilla.

Times have changed in Mexican soccer as Liga Mx has announced a series of modifications in the tournament.

The new normal of Mexican soccer includes new names, new owners, and new ways to hire players.

Some of the changes include the new name of Monarcas Morelia that will now be called Mazatlán FC. Enrique Bonilla said that the owners remain the same, though.

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However, the Querétaro soccer team is no longer owned by Grupo Caliente; it now belongs to “new investors” who also manage the Atlante soccer team. Moreover, promoters will be the owners of Liga Mx, such as Greg Taylor, who will be a director at Gallos Blancos.

Bonilla announced another change in the tournament that will feature playoffs once again. Teams on place 5 to 12 will play against each other since teams 1 to 4 will go directly to semifinals. 66% of soccer clubs in the tournament will play at the elimination round.

The last place of the quotient will not lose its category, however, it will have to pay an MXN 120 million fee as punishment. The second and third to last will also pay a fee.

Soccer players and coaches will be in charge of paying their taxes and double contracts are now forbidden. No player is allowed to reach an external agreement with a club and, should it happen, it must be registered. Moreover, all deals will be done in national currency.

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