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U.S. team, fans get safety assurance for Mexico game after league brawl

The U.S. Soccer Federation has received assurances from Mexican Football Federation officials that players and fans will be safe during a World Cup qualifier between the teams in Mexico City this month after violent clashes marred a Mexican league game.

A brawl between supporters at a stadium in the central city of Queretaro during the Queretaro-Atlas encounter last Saturday sent 26 people, most of them men, to hospital with three people in critical condition.

Mobile phone videos that went viral and sparked outrage in Mexico and beyond showed people being brutally beaten.

“As we prepare for our World Cup qualifier … at Estadio Azteca on March 24, we want to pause to express our thoughts over the unbearable and horrific tragedy that occurred at a league match,” the U.S. Soccer Federation said in a statement.

“U.S. Soccer has spoken to Mexican Football Federation officials, who have assured us that U.S. and Mexican fans, teams and players will safely experience one of the world’s biggest national team rivalries in sports, as has been the case at Estadio Azteca for past matches.

“We feel strongly that the pain resulting from the heartbreaking violence at Estadio Corregidora is not Mexico’s alone to bear. While we are opponents on the field of play, it’s important to remember that soccer is a global community, and our bond transcends rivalries, competition and results.”

With three games to go in qualifying, Canada lead the eight-team CONCACAF group with 25 points, four ahead of the United States and Mexico.

The top three automatically qualify for Qatar 2022 with the fourth-placed side going into an international playoff.

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