Mexicans were aghast after a soccer player pretended to shoot one of his teammates in the head to celebrate a goal, a prank that fell flat in a country where nearly 50,000 have died in gangland violence in less than five years.

The incident took place in the 32nd minute of Saturday's first division match between the Chivas del Guadalajara and Estudiantes Tecos.

After Marco Fabian scored for Chivas on a pass from Alberto Medina, the two men simulated an execution-style shooting.

The celebration spurred an avalanche of criticism in the media and on social networks, as even Chivas fans described the stunt as gratuitous and inappropriate.

The outcry prompted the club's management to issue an apology.

"We regret the celebration carried out by our players Marco Fabian and Alberto Medina after the goal Fabian scored against the Estudiantes Tecos team," Chivas said Monday in a statement.

Fabian and Medina "will be reprimanded by the institution, because they are an example for the children and young people of our country", the club said.

Mexican soccer has first-hand experience of the violence that has rocked the country since the government militarised the struggle with organised crime in December 2006.

In early 2010, Paraguayan striker Salvador Cabanas, playing for Mexico's America club, was shot in the head at a bar in the Mexican capital.

Cabanas barely survived and has yet to return to soccer, though he did take part in a special exhibition match in Mexico organized in his honour.