After initially planning to boycott the game entirely over unpaid wages, Liga MX team Veracruz ended up playing, but staging a protest in the early minutes against Tigres Friday night in Mexico.
"Footballers from the Tiburones Rojos del Veracruz have agreed not to play the next fixture of the 2019 Apertura against Tigres, a decision supported emphatically by the Mexican Footballers Association (AMFproMX) and all the footballers in the domestic game in solidarity with the clear interference of their labor rights," read part of the statement released from AMFproMX on Wednesday, ESPN reported.
Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla threatened the club with immediate relegation should it not take the field Friday, according to ESPN. So instead of carrying out the original plan, both sides stopped play for the first minutes of the game.
Veracruz vs. Tigres has kicked off, but players from both sides have stopped for the first minute in protest at unpaid wages for Veracruz players. #ligamxeng— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) October 19, 2019
Veracruz continued the protest through the first four minutes and 20 seconds, but in the meantime, Tigres began to score. Veracruz players reportedly remained motionless.
The scene was astonishing.
Incredible scenes in Mexico tonight 🇲🇽— Goal (@goal) October 19, 2019
Veracruz refused to play at the start of their Liga MX match against Tigres to protest several months of unpaid wages
So Tigres went and scored three goals in the first eight minutes 😱 😱
🎥: @UnivDeportes pic.twitter.com/m4NZQQ9Li5
Tigres was up 3-0 in the eighth minute, which reportedly was not part of the plan.
3-0 Tigres in the 8th minute. Veracruz players now moving around, but also fouling a lot. It wasn't clear if Tigres' players knew exactly what was going on there. #ligamxeng— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) October 19, 2019
TV Azteca reporting that the Veracruz players didn't expect Tigres to start scoring goals during the protest. #ligamxeng— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) October 19, 2019
TV Azteca also reported that Tigres knew the protest would last three minutes.
Veracruz, which occupies the league’s cellar and will lose its 40th consecutive league game should Friday’s result hold, has been embroiled in a number issues on- and off-field as of late. The club paid a sizable fine to stay in Liga MX at the end of last season.
Alvaro Ortiz, president of AMFproMX, said that some players were owed six months in wages and that workers at the club were “sleeping on mats in the stadium,” and that “some of the players' children had been kicked out of school due to lack of payments,” according to ESPN.
He also said that the players “felt abandoned by the Liga MX and that their human rights hadn't been respected.”
"It's a question of solidarity, a question of helping those who need it most, of the dignity of the players," Ortiz told reporters. "We know other players in other clubs understand. This is a topic of solidarity, it's not a call for a [general league-wide] strike."
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