Liga MX has issued a 12-game suspension to referee Fernando Hernandez for kneeing Club Leon’s Lucas Romero in the groin during the Week 13 match against Club America.
“Fernando Hernandez Gomez, center referee of the match [Club America vs. Leon], is sanctioned by the Disciplinary Committee with a 12-game suspension, for violating Article 30, paragraph g) of the FMF’s [Mexican Football Federation] Regulation of Sanctions, by engaging in violent conduct against a player,” said the league in a statement.
Tensions rose in the second half between Leon and America at the Estadio Azteca this past Saturday, as players surrounded Hernandez following a controversial goal by the Eagles. The referee took an aggressive turn in a bid to handle the situation, kneeing Romero to ensue chaos.
The game proceeded, but the hostility between the two teams did not die down. In the 71st minute, Club America scored their second, edging out Leon 2-1 before fights broke out once again on the field. This time, managers Nicolas Larcamon and Fernando Ortiz got involved,
The two were sent off after the fight, which left Larcamon with a torn shirt. The display forced six yellow cards for players, one red card for each coach, and 10 minutes in injury time added to the clock. The referee had lost control of the game.
By the final whistle, the 2-2 draw between Club Leon and Club America led to a 2023 Clausura-high of cards brandished in a single game.
The 39-year-old match official is not new to the league, leading a professional career for over 20 years. But now, the momentary lapse of judgment will cause Hernandez to miss the remainder of the 2023 Clausura and part of the 2023 Apertura this summer.
The disciplinary committee has also extended sanctions to Lucas Romero for “violating the principles of sportsmanship and Fair Play, through actions towards match officials,” and Leon manager Nicolas Larcamon and Club America manager Fernando Ortiz for “violent conduct.” The three will serve a two-game suspension.
The league then warned that more severe sanctions could be given in the future for either team if a similar situation happens again. Following last year’s situation with Queretato and Atlas, Liga MX vowed to hold a strict view on acts of violence to prioritize the safety of players, staff and fans.