The scary realities of parts of Mexican society met football last night in a match between Santos Laguna and Monarcas Morelia. In the middle of the match, gunshots could be heard and players fled the field. There was confusion as to where the gunshots were coming from, specifically whether or not they were coming from inside the stadium. It turned out to be members of a drug cartel firing at police officers outside the stadium after being stopped.
Unfortunately, drug violence is happening more and more in Mexico, drawing headlines in papers and overshadowing much else in the country. That's not to say that it is all over the country, but it is a major issue that has not affected football. It's something that could have a much bigger impact on football going forward too. Tom Marshall of SB Nation's Mexican football blog, FMF State of Mind, highlighted the impact of the situation outside the Santos and Morelia match on the Mexican Primera.
With its high wages, Mexican football has pulled some of South America’s best talents to its domestic league. Chilean Humberto Suazo and Ecuadorian Christian Benitez are the highest profile current examples. Benitez cited the situation in Torreon as one of the reasons he moved from Santos to America (Mexico City) in June. Two players left Guadalajara clubs for foreign ones because of extortion threats in late 2010. Then there is the sad case of Salvador Cabañas, shot in the head in a Mexico City nightclub in January 2010. There will come a point where these quality players who add so much to the league simply decide it isn’t worth the risk.
It's not hard to see this becoming a reality if the situation doesn't change. Top players will always have options and when one option can put you in danger, odds are you're going to pass on that option. It's a scary situation that is far more important that football, but that doesn't mean football can't be impacted.