Swine flu closes football stadiums
Monday 27 April 2009
A surreal quality came to Mexican football on Sunday as a league game between clubs America and Tecos was played in a nearly empty Aztec Stadium, the giant 100,000-seat facility closed to the public because of the outbreak of swine flu.
Tecos won 2-1 with only a handful of team and stadium officials watching in the cavernous stadium, one of the largest in the world used to host football matches.
Only a few people milled around outside the stadium, with most of the city's 20 million inhabitants hunkered down at home. Most of those who ventured out wore surgical masks, which were being handed out by soldiers on street corners.
The Mexican Football Federation ordered two other weekend matches be played in empty stadiums.
Also in the Mexican capital on Sunday, capital club Pumas played Chivas in an empty University City stadium, which was sold out before the match. The match was a 1-1 draw and it was not immediately clear how ticket refunds might be handled.
On Saturday, Mexico City club Cruz Azul traveled to Pachuca — located about 55 kilometers (34 miles) from the Mexican capital — in another match ordered to be played without fans. Pachuca won 3-0 on a weekend of football when the importance of scores paled in comparison to the frightening outbreak of flu.
Mario Trejo, an official of the Pumas club, acknowledged a financial loss from the stadium closure. Ticket sales from the Pumas-Chivas games could amount to about 7-8 million pesos ($530,000-$600,000). Other revenue will be lost on concession stands and refreshments.
Football venues on Sunday in Mexico are usually like enormous open-air cantinas.
"Yes, it affects us, but ... it is more important to prevent the spread of the disease," Trejo, athletic director for the Pumas football club, told Mexico's Milenio TV.
In Mexico, 86 deaths are suspected to be swine flu related, with 22 of those confirmed. Nearly 1,400 people are believed infected. In Mexico City alone, five people have died since Saturday of influenza, with two of them confirmed to be swine flu, Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said.
Mexican football officials have not announced what other measures will be taken for upcoming games in the capital or its outskirts.
A top Mexico City pro baseball team — Los Diablos Rojos or Red Devils — on Sunday said it would play three games next week away from its Mexico City stadium. The games will be played in Coahuila in the north of the country.
Latest in Sport
Arsenal vs Aston Villa preview: I need to prove myself again at Villa, says Scott Sinclair
Transfer news and rumours LIVE: Juan Cuadrado to Chelsea, Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester City, United want Gareth Bale
Chelsea vs Manchester City player ratings: David Silva saves the day but which City star stole the show at Stamford Bridge?
Arsene Wenger photobombs Arsenal photo shoot - manages to look like famous 'Bigfoot' picture
Serena Williams wins Australia Open 2015: American beats Maria Sharapova in straight sets to claim a sixth title in Melbourne
- 1 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 2 City traders pay £200 for a quick hangover cure
- 3 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 5 Ball pool for adults opens in London
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Hard line on immigration could cost Tories the election