Mexico cancels incomplete soccer season over virus concerns

Carlos Rodríguez
Associated Press

Mexico City — Mexico’s professional soccer league has decided to cancel the season without crowning a champion for the first time in its history due to the uncertainty generated by the pandemic.

Liga MX announced Friday that despite having played 10 of the season’s 17 dates, it would declare it over without a winner. The league suspended play March 15, more than two weeks after the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Mexico was announced.

The league said in the statement that the restrictions caused by the health emergency made it impossible to continue without putting people at risk.

The Olympic Stadium stands empty as Mexico City faces its lockdown to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

“It’s indisputable that we live in an unprecedented situation in this country that obliges the soccer industry in Mexico to act with absolute sensitivity and respond with unity to the demands that have presented themselves,” it said.

Some teams had begun testing players with an eye toward resuming the season, but this week 12 players from the Santos team in the northern city of Torreon tested positive for the new coronavirus. The results likely influenced the league’s decision.

It said it was working with authorities to hopefully start the new season in late July, adding that it was likely the first games would be played without fans in the stands.

It was an unlucky break for Cruz Azul, the Mexico City club that was atop the standings when the season was suspended. It was looking to break a title drought dating to 1997.

The women’s professional season was also canceled, the league said.