Mexican media outlets have been buzzing with indignation over the decision of Liguilla semifinalist Cruz Azul to field Santiago Carmona in last Thursday's match against Pachuca. On Wednesday, Carmona had received notice of a lifetime suspension by the Court of Arbitration for Sport tribunal for repeated doping violations. The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) and the club had also been notified. Carmona sought and received an injunction from a federal judge stating the ban could not immediate effect. Based on the judicial action, which came through prior to the start of the match, Cruz Azul went ahead and fielded Carmona. And then all hell broke loose when the story hit the media.
There was widespread indignation by national sports commentators. No one was buying the argument put forth by the club president that the Tribunal had put the wrong date on the letter and that besides, the letter was in English. The Federation punished the club's decision by preventing it from playing tomorrow's scheduled semifinal match. Pachuca (my favorite Mexican football club) automatically advances to the finals against the winner of the América-Chivas match. Pachuca had soundly defeated Cruz Azul 3-1 last Thursday. (And that one goal was the product of a dubious red card that may well be overturned by the Federation's disciplinary committee.)
Cruz Azul's penalty implies not only a premature end to its season but a heavy out-of-pocket expense. The club will have to compensate Pachuca for lost ticket revenue and TV Azteca for lost advertising revenue. Azteca America would have benefited from transmitting the second semifinal match between Cruz Azul and Pachuca. It would have brought in high ratings and been paired with the Chivas-América match. Cruz Azul's decision to shoot itself in the foot will somewhat diminish the benefits that Azteca America was expecting to reap from the Liguilla semifinals.
Not a major loss but a minor setback for a Spanish-language television network that needs every strong ratings performance it can get.