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Mexico mourns soccer-less weekend as referees hold strike

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 12, 2017 at 3:31 p.m.

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican sports fans mourned a weekend without soccer Sunday after referees refused to officiate at games in protest of the Mexican league's decision not to impose tougher punishments on two players who shoved officials.

The sports newspaper Record published a banner headline Sunday reading "We are going to miss you!" It carried the subtitle: "A sad weekend without the MX League," referring to Mexico's first-division league.

The trouble started last week when a player for Club Toluca shoved a referee after an expulsion and a player for the America squad appeared to head-butt another referee after a call.

The referees reported both players for "aggression," which could have led to them being banned from playing for a year. But the league's disciplinary committee punished the players with eight- and 10-match suspensions for the lesser offense of "attempted aggression."

Referees showed up for a scheduled match Friday but refused to take the field, preventing play. The games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday also were not played.

On Saturday, the professional referee's association sent out a press statement saying, "We believe that the (disciplinary) decision contradicts the authority of referees and the spirit that should prevail in Mexican soccer."

The association added that "we support our colleagues, in the hope that respect and legality will prevail so that we can enjoy the soccer the fans deserve."

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