Mexican teams on Friday pulled out of all tournaments organized by the South American Football Confederation (CSF) in a move sparked by rival teams' refusal to play Mexico due to the swine flu outbreak. "Mexican soccer teams withdraw completely from all of the competitions organized by the CSF until we reach an agreement," the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) said at a news conference. The announcement came after players from Uruguay and Brazil refused to travel to Mexico for two scheduled games against Mexican teams San Luis and Guadalajara in the Libertadores Cup, a series of matches played by top clubs in the region. In addition to the Libertadores Cup, the CSF organizes the America's Cup and the South American Cup. Mexico is the epicenter of the H1N1 flu outbreak that has sickened more than 3,000 people in 27 countries, killing 48. The bulk of the deaths have been in Mexico, with three reported in the United States and Canada. CSF president Nicolas Leoz said the confederation had not been notified of Mexico's decision to withdraw its teams. During a tournament game last week in Chile, a Mexican footballer spit and blew nasal secretions at an opponent and then said he had swine flu. He was suspended from the event a few days later. Mexican players from the city of Guadalajara complained their opponents taunted them with remarks about flu during the game. They also said Chileans covered their mouths, ran away, laughed or made remarks about being contaminated when the team went to a local shopping center, The Mexican government has shut down businesses and banned crowds from sporting events to prevent the flu from spreading in large public gatherings. Several games between Mexican teams were played in front of empty stadiums after the outbreak was reported on April 23. Authorities are permitting stadiums to be half-full during matches this weekend, as the country relaxes its flu controls.
8 May 2009
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