Liga MX: Morelia president says extortion calls affecting players

Over half of Liga MX club Morelia's players have received calls attempting to extort them and signing new faces from abroad has been complicated due to insecurity concerns, according to club president Alvaro Davila.

Monarcas are struggling in 15th position in Liga MX, with fans displaying their unhappiness after last Friday's 2-1 home loss to Atlas, but Davila said in a news conference on Wednesday that part of the club's problems were beyond his control.

"It's a delicate topic," Davila said. "Over half of our players have received extortion calls and we know that because they talk between themselves about it.

"It's an obstacle to players coming, above all foreigners."

Davila added that the club were closing in on a Paraguay-based center forward and a center-back playing in Europe before the January transfer window ended, but admitted that "the commentaries made abroad in the news about the lines at gas stations, the blockades of the trains and the insecurity" made the transfers complicated.

Morelia is capital of the state of Michoacan, which has been one of the states most affected by narco-related violence in Mexico in recent years.

There have also been widespread problems this year in the state with the distribution of petrol, leading to long lines and shortages at gas stations, while a teachers' union launched a rail blockade in Michoacan last month to demand payment of back wages.

It's not the first time such issues have crept into Mexico soccer.

Back in August 2017, current Atlas sporting president Rafa Marquez was accused by the U.S. Treasury Department of having acted as a front person for a drug trafficking organization, following a multi-year investigation.

Former Monterrey goalkeeper Omar "Gato" Ortiz is currently serving time in prison after being found guilty of kidnapping, while Chivas striker Alan Pulido managed to escape after being kidnapped in 2016.

More recently, U.S. international Jorge Villafana was robbed at gunpoint last May when he played for Santos Laguna. The defender returned to the Portland Timbers three months later.